Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Territory

Do you like pulpy storytelling? Do you like 50's and 60's sci-fi serials? Do you like noir-ish narration? Do you like horribly average art that is from the late 90's but looks like it's from the late 80's? You do? Then you'll love this 4 issue mini series from Dark Horse comics.

The Territory is the story of a man who is constantly in search of his ever elusive and ever changing love, Scarlett... or Rose... or whatever name she gets in each issue. You see, the gimmick of this story is that everything is constantly changing but there's a few common elements in each scene change. You always have your protagonist, who never changes, and then there is the beautiful woman he lusts after, the big & bag evil antagonist, and lots of sci-fi monsters.

I felt as if the writers wanted to explore many of the different cliched sci-fi environments that were all the rage in 50's and 60's sci-fi serials and sci-fi literature. In the first issue, a lone man is found by a pirate ship that takes him to a high tech island where captured people are used as fodder in futuristic gladiator arenas fighting aliens or monsters that look like aliens or monster aliens or whatever. He is in the process of fighting for his love when he and lady fall over the side of the flying ship they are on...

Then as our protagonist awakens he finds himself in a jungle where everything around him is mutated. While traversing the mutated wasteland he encounters a group of men controlling robots that harvest the lost people of the "mesh" (the name for the jungle area). Before he has a chance to be captured a group of rebels runs the robots off...

And then the scene switches to a new sci-fi template. The scenes keep shifting all the way up to the end in which, as I guessed after the first scene shift, the big reveal attempts to explain the reality morphing that has been going on. In case you do read this mini, I don't want to ruin it, but let's just say that this ending has been used to justify hundreds of stories that deal with crazy reality hopping.

You know, if this were to have come out in 1950, it would have been revolutionary, but when it came out in 1999, it was no doubt meant to be an homage to the stories of many moons ago. Unfortunatly, there really aren't any comic readers that can really relate to the older stories. I only caught many of the references and stylistic nuances because I watched so many episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I fear that this story will fail to satisfy most comic readers, even though I'm sure it was created with the best intentions of paying homage to the pulp sci-fi that led to the creation of modern sci-fi.

Art: 2.5
Story: 2
Overall: 2

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