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‘Caliban’ #2 – The Creep Factor is Rising

‘Caliban’ #2 – The Creep Factor is Rising

Caliban #2download (4)

Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Facundo Percio
Published by Avatar Press

Caliban #2 has the group taking stock of their situation and realizing how little they know about what they’ve gotten themselves into. Ennis teases us with several possibilities before we see the real danger confronting the crew, or at least a hint of the danger’s true nature. Even when it only has a few fleshed out characters, something about this story manages to be engrossing and disturbing all at once.

San and Nomi are exploring the newly merged Caliban/Alien Vessel when they realize that they are physically trapped on the outside of the Caliban but inside the alien vessel. Nomi panicks and falls into a hatch containing dozens of not hundreds of alien species floating in tanks. After accidentally releasing one, San and Nomi release that all of the creatures are dead. The crew collectively realizes they have twelve people left alive and are still missing their navigator, Karien. They agree to start sealing off access points to preserve oxygen to the ship. More crucially, San and Nomi start using the Caliban’s computers to try and communicate with the alien ship. The issue ends when one of the crewmembers sealing an access point is found by Karien, the lost navigator. However, Karien is not really Karien anymore, and what he is something totally alien, in every bad sense of the word.untitled

I got a real kick out of the false alarm with the squid alien, which in itself has to be an homage to Alien: instead of the alien bursting out of a chest, it looks as though one is going down Nomi’s mouth. It’s a jumpy moment that belongs in a movie, but in a good way, because it’s fundamentally a gag. The crew’s interactions feel believable, which is refreshing in a horror series. In too many movies, comics, and books, characters fail to make simple leaps of logic or pointlessly bicker. Here, the crew works together efficiently, understanding that cooperation is their only chance of avoiding asphyxiation. If only that was their only problem…

One thing that is bothering me in Caliban are crew names. Considering how 20140508-193606much communication occurs with headsets, it makes it difficult to attach names to very many of the faces, even with characters who I recognize and like. Again, so many of them are probably red shirts that it’s immaterial, but it’s hard to become attached to a character when you don’t have a name for them. Name tags on uniforms could have gone a long way in making clear who is talking about who.

Even so, San and Nomi carry so much of this series that it’s easy to focus on them to the exclusion of everything else. And the question of “Just what the hell is wrong with Karien” can carry this series for a long time. The few words he speaks are analytical, describing his beating of the crewmember as “inefficient.” Karien now acts like a scientist dissecting a frog, except that this scientist wants to see how much that frog can suffer.