Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Jason Howard
Published by Image Comics
We are living in the midst of a boom in good Science-Fiction comic writing. Trees is the latest Sci-Fi story from acclaimed author Warren Ellis. The comic book deals with the discovery of alien life, or more specifically, the fact that alien life doesn’t regard humanity as being particularly significant. The book takes place in three different locations and examines how human society has been shaped and changed by the presence of intelligent life that has, quite literally, been placed smack-dab in the middle of our civilization.
The story takes place ten years after the so-called “Trees” have landed all across Earth. Their purpose is totally unknown to human beings, and apart from the fact that the Trees discharge toxic waste periodically, they do not interact with our species at all. The book focuses on the Trees in three different locations: New York, Shu, China, and Svalbard, Norway. In each place, the presence of the Tree is disrupting human society and the natural environment. Shu, for example, has been declared a “Special Cultural Zone” by the Chinese government and is a remarkably free and open city, presumably to contrast with a closed Chinese society.
The dialogue and narrative is relatively Spartan in this comic, and Ellis and Howard move the story forward with pictures. The characters in this comic are simply living with the changes that have gone on around them with the exception of the scientists in Svalbard, so it’s up to the reader to figure out what this new world looks like. Howard’s art is strong, especially in the sections dealing with China. In Shu, the bright colors and the speed of city life really convey the feeling of disorientation and newness.
The series promises to be interesting because it plays with a familiar trope, alien invasion, but makes the invasion the result of aliens simply disregarding human beings as worthy of attention. There’s not a whole lot is going on in terms of action (yet), so it’s not an attention grabbing first issue. However, a cold open with few conclusions lets the reader draw his own ideas about what will come. The next few issues will definitely need some more exposition and an arc, but as for now, this works for introducing the series.