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‘Caliban’ #5-Good in a Painful Way

‘Caliban’ #5-Good in a Painful Way

Caliban #5download

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

Well, some of my theories about the nature of this ship were born out by this issue, while others turned out to be bogus. More than anything else, this is a sad issue, as virtually all of the characters have been whittled down until only a couple of people are left alive at the end. Be aware, I will be discussing numerous spoilers here, so if you don’t want to know who bites it, don’t read any further. Consider yourself warned.

The remaining crew of the Caliban listens to the message from the alien computer. The species that ran this ship referred to themselves as “faunaculturalists” and studied alien species from all over the galaxy, finding different ways to improve them with science. On one planet, they found that everything had been driven totally extinct, but their researchers were gradually possessed by a sinister force. Once it was on the ship, it continually took control of the crew, and killing the host merely forced it into new bodies. The aliens finally powered down the ship and left everybody to die, recommending that anybody who found them overload the core to escape.

Caliban PanelBetween Nomi, McCartney and San, the three decide to join the Caliban’s engines to the alien ship. McCartney goes, and in a touching moment, he asks Nomi to keep an eye on the captain. He goes out on a space walk and, despite the crew’s hopes, Karien manages to be out there waiting for him. McCartney begs him to not to kill him, speaking to the Karien he knew and hoping to reach him, but this doesn’t stop the alien from smashing his helmet in. This is too much for the catatonic captain, who blows his brains out in front of San and Nomi.

Damnit, this is one of the things I find so frustrating about the horror genre. McCartney was always going to die, and he was one of the few characters that lived long enough to start to look like a real character. At least that gave his death some emotional impact, though that doesn’t really apply to the other characters here. San and Nomi have been covered in plot armor this whole time, so any attachment we formed to any other characters was always doomed to be fleeting. I’d love, just for once, to see horror media in which a majority of the group survives, or it’s the “unattractive” women that make it out.

Still, part of that anger was my fanboyish attachment to a secondary character. I loved this issue. And while I’m frustrated that Caliban Panel 2McCartney had to die because of tropes, the sequence with him trying to beg real Karien not to kill him was painful to read in a good way. It’s sad to see somebody who realizes the jig is up for them. The idea that these aliens were naturalists who stumbled on something they shouldn’t have is interesting, and depending on your interpretation of the Alien franchise, yet another homage to the Space Jockeys. Additionally, Garth Ennis deserves some credit for depicting a lesbian relationship in a comic book without making it gratuitously sexual. That would have been really easy to do (and has been done before), but it’s more tasteful here than one might have expected.

We’re down to the last few issues of this comic (I assume), so I’m excited to see how exactly San is planning to kill this entity and save the day. There are no more redshirts to get in the way and get killed, so it’s just these two remaining characters and this monster, which now can presumably start the ship’s engines. All I know is I can’t wait for the next issue.