August 6, 2020

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Engineward issue #1 cover by Eisma

Engineward issue #1 offers an epic in the mold of Foundation and The Incal

With the drought in comic releases due to the Corona epidemic I am forced to scour for reading material. As I have a preference for science fiction I came upon Engineward, a new series that saw its first issue release just yesterday. What follows is a review of what I think is the first of many, not that this issue without flaws. Yet, they are minor and not uncommon for the first issue of a new series. Engineward is published by Vault Comics and was written by George Mann whose previous credits include Dr. Who and Dark Souls.

The art was created by Joe Eisma who has worked on the Archie series while the coloring is done by Michael Garland. Together they have created an intriguing first issue for Engineward, certainly the cover is spectacular looking – almost reminiscent of Metropolis. In Engineward we follow the story of Joss and Ichabod. The latter is a scavenger, collecting metals from long-downed spaceships. Joss on the other hand is a fixer of old machinery, she is known as an Engineward.

Engineward issue #1 Joss

It is not long before Ichabod brings her the head of as Ghoulem, which differs from a other machinery in that it was created to be alive. When Joss manages to activate the head it triggers something else as well. Something that has been dormant, perhaps since the destruction of ancient Earth. While Joss and Ichabod live in Shantytown making a living scraping together machinery a severe drought is in progress. Severe enough to also concern their godlike overlords the Celestials. We watch as one, Cancer, enjoys the hedonistic pleasures of his spa, but is interrupted by the demand from more water by the people below. The Celestials attempt to intervene, but are unaware of the activation of the Ghoulem.

Engineward issue #1 Cancer the celestial

My opinion on Engineward issue #1

After reading the first it is still hard to understand what the story is about. With Joss and Ichabod stuck in Shantytown and the godlike Celestials governing them everything feels very familiar. I get the sense this is a mix-tape of Foundation, Dune and the works of Alastair Reynolds. Perhaps that is being unfair. After all there are just 27 pages in this first issue. However, as the issue ends after the activation of the Ghoulem I get no sense in what direction the story is taking. The characters Joss, Ichabod and Cancer are intriguing, but it is hard to say what their relation is. This first issue thus fails to create a direct threat to anyone even if there is suspense. That said, George Mann had created a captivating scenario that feels as though it has potential.

Engineward issue #1 Ichabod and the Ghoulem

Despite the fact that not everything clicked with me I remain interested. I will probably read issue 2 when it releases August 19th. This series has potential, but the first issue felt too disjointed by progressing the stories of Joss, Ichabod and the Celestial Cancer. Had the focus been solely on Joss – whose job description lends this series its title – then there was an opportunity to make an impact akin to Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman or Jodorowsky’s The Incal. I did enjoy the language used in the issue. Joss refers to the robot Kreek’s programming as its scriptures. This and other examples lends the story a special feeling. So despite some flaws I believe Engineward is worth reading. I fully expect this series to unfold in the next few issues. If it doesn’t, well, we will known.