On the surface, The Seeds #1 seems like a winner. It’s a story featuring a harried journalist looking for the truth in an age of clickbait, a wall between a technology and non-technology using area, alien sex, and is Hawkeye and Immortal Iron Fist‘s David Aja‘s return to interior art. However, Ann Nocenti’s plotting jumps all over the place from anecdotes about bees and sex and Chairman Mao to interspersed images of crows and finally, the “good part” of the comic, the story of the aforementioned journalist Astra. I like the idea that the world of The Seeds is much like our own and a little bit like Cold War Berlin with a Neo-Luddite twist. But Nocenti’s worldbuilding comes in fits and cryptic starts.
A mystery is a good thing for a first issue of a comic, but the sequences with the gas mask wearing bee-like aliens lack any real emotional connection unlike the ones with Astra. The journalism and tech-free zone stuff is cool, but the aliens are kind of boring. Maybe, that’s Nocenti’s point: that mid-level alien workers are just as boring as their human equivalent. But it doesn’t make for entertaining reading. There’s an overly labored discussion about bees and pollination as some kind of hackneyed metaphor for what the aliens are doing on Earth too that seems like an excuse to drop the book’s title. At least, Aja pulls off some interesting hive-like layouts, and his art and the character of Astra are Seeds‘ sole redeeming factors.
David Aja works in monochrome in Seeds #1 so you can really see the care in his line work and inking. He uses Benday dots when depicting the technology-free zone and little sputters of light that are like a bright fluorescent light shining down into a dirty room. Human civilization is dying, and Aja’s art nails this better than any chatter about harvesting or people taking drugs that supposedly make you see your own death. He also isn’t afraid to get intimate with his character like spending a whole page showing Astra’s post-work routine as she goes from a disappointing meeting with her boss to hitting a bar to write some puff piece about a new drug on the scene. Two pages, eighteen panels, and we get an understanding of this truth driven, sharp witted, and sometimes cynical journalist. She’s a great character, who is unfortunately stuck in a dull comic.
Even though it’s a post-apocalyptic story, Seeds #1 seems like a Cold War/retro story with references to Roswell, the whole wall thing, and even the alien designs when they pop up. It’s like those old 2000 AD stories that riffed on the American Civil War or Reagan’s presidency, but in the distant future and trying to be smart and serious. The references to click bait pop readers back into contemporary times and then a panel of a tabloid style newspaper kicks it back to the time of the Red Scare. Along with people abandoning technology, it’s an interesting concept, but sadly Ann Nocenti just mentions it and moves onto alien worker bee harvesting or unrelated juxtaposed images of birds in an attempt to make some point about the end of the world cut-up style. (William S. Burroughs did some of his best work in the 1950s and 1960s so it fits with the whole neo-Cold War shtick.) Or it could be the twin ravens of Odin signaling Ragnarok. Theorizing about this comic was more interesting than reading it.
The Seeds #1 has some ideas with potential like the “Neo-Luddite” zone, an intriguing, if a little pompous protagonist, and the skilled storytelling pacing and economic line work of David Aja. But it has long uninteresting stretches, its world is ill-defined, and goes down too many tangents aka I wasn’t hooked to check out issue two.
Story: Ann Nocenti Art/Letters: David Aja
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 5.4 Recommendation: Pass
Dark Horse/Berger Books provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review