cover image ORBITER


Warren Ellis, . . DC Comics/Vertigo, $24.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-1-4012-0056-5

Ten years after its mysterious disappearance, the space shuttle Venture returns to Earth covered in organic material, rewired with alien technology and missing all but one of its crew members. The dust in its wheel tracks indicates it has been on Mars and possibly other planets as well. The United States government drafts an ex-astronaut biologist, a brash young propulsion expert and a washed-out psychiatrist to piece together what happened to the Venture. Ellis has crafted a scientific mystery similar in structure to an issue of his acclaimed series Planetary. However, where the protagonists of that series are detached observers of the fantastic, here Ellis gives each character a personal stake in the investigation. Ellis has struck gold: his old talents for mad ideas and nuanced tough talk melds with a new optimism, giving this story an emotional depth far beyond that of typical sci-fi. Doran's art serves his story well, as she handles cataclysmic disaster scenes, detailed technical exposition and tender human moments with equal deftness. (June)