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Orbital: Ruptures (volume two)

Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2009
By: Penny Kenny

Sylvain Runberg
Serge Pellé
Cinebook
As galactic agents Caleb and Mezoke try to negotiate a peaceful settlement between the human colonists and the Jävlods on the planet Senestam, each faction’s extremist elements push the situation closer to war.

After the broad galaxy-establishing story of the first volume, writer Sylvain Runberg narrows the focus to just the Senestam mission in Ruptures--which results in a tighter, more action-packed installment, but that’s not to say the political machinations are missing in volume two. They’re very much in evidence. It’s merely that Runberg is exploring the various viewpoints through their effects on specific characters as opposed to the reporting style of volume one, Scars.

Runberg’s scripting continues to impress. He seamlessly cuts between the activities of the various factions--slowly building toward the dramatic climax. Within each of his scenes, Runberg layers information about the universe the story is set in (as well as where the characters are coming from) in fairly naturalistic dialog. There are also some light moments to leaven the proceedings.

This is cerebral, not emotional, science fiction. Readers can get attached to the characters, can understand (to some extent) what drives them, but the characters’ thoughts and feelings are their own. Their actions, not their dialog or monologs, tell who they are. Runberg goes for understatement, which makes the reader put more into the story.

While the focus is on the plot, the main characters’ personalities are beginning to come to the fore. Caleb is shown to be quick thinking and courageous. His attraction to one of the colonists on Senestam is handled in a subtle way that adds poignancy to events. Mezoke remains mysterious, but is shown to be a professional who will complete the mission regardless of cost to itself. Several small scenes also suggest Mezoke is rather fond of Caleb.

However, the characters who really shine are the pilot, Nina, and her ship, Angus. Their actions here suggest they’re going to be valuable members of the team, and that their presence will cause conflict down the road.

Serge Pellé’s art is the perfect match for Runberg’s script. The character design is clean--open without being blank, and allowing for distinctive-looking characters. The backgrounds are highly detailed without being oppressively so nor distracting from the main action.

One of the most impressive effects is the rain. It’s raining on Senestam--continuously. Every outdoor scene set on the planet shows the rain--long lines of subdued black and grey--yet it never obscures the action. It creates a subliminal feeling of oppression that suits the story.

Pellé’s action scenes are some of the nicest I’ve seen lately. The opening panels showing Mezoke’s acrobatics as it takes out the giant attacking insects are fluid and almost balletic. The shootout between Caleb and some extremists has a heavier feel to it, which suits the larger human, but it’s no less fluid in execution.

While someone who hasn’t read the preceding volume will be somewhat lost , readers who enjoyed Orbital: Scars will definitely want to pick up this one, Orbital: Ruptures.



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