Written and Art by Albert Monteys. Published by Panel Syndicate.
Last year saw the launch of Panel Syndicate which was Brian K Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s outlet to release “pay what you want” digital comics. This publishing initiative was launched with The Private Eye and as the issues rolled out they hinted that there would other creators joining the fold. This week saw the first with the introduction of Universe! #1 by Spanish cartoonist Albert Monteys. While Monteys is mostly known for his humour work in Spain, Universe! is his first attempt at science fiction and a great one at that.
Universe! #1 is a story 17 billion years in the making, with a man named Thomas sent back into time in order to create the universe for his employer. While time travel with the intention of changing history for personal gain has been done before, Albert Monteys has put a fresh spin on the concept through the idea that he is forced to sign the building blocks of life with his companies’ logo on a subatomic level. The only problem with the plan is that Thomas has to wait out 17 billion years in order to get back to his time. Throughout the story we see Thomas witness moments in history, while at the same time go through the mental struggle and loneliness of the wait. Each issue of Universe! is a self-contained story, with each story intended to connect more or less with one another.
Universe! #1 introduces the reader to a range of interesting concepts and fun ideas. While we don’t see much of the future (Thomas’ present), Monteys has created a world full of cool gadgets, futuristic architecture, robots of varied designs and fascinating outfits. Even in the past, Monteys makes creates some interesting ideas such as what killed the dinosaurs.
If I had to have any criticisms of Universe! #1 it would be that I would’ve liked to have seen more of the insect people that feature in the story. Although, this is a minor issue as they are not the major focus of story. It would be interesting to see if Monteys will flesh out their story and history in a subsequent issue.
The stand out aspect of Universe! #1 is definitely Albert Monteys art. Through n music of vibrant colours, clean lines and a great understanding of lighting Universe! #1 is a comic that’s wonderful to look at. Great detail has been put into each page with lush environments and with things going on in the background that give the world around a fell that it is alive. There were many pages that I went back and had a second look at to see if I could find any details I hadn’t seen the first time. The highlight for me was a scene set 66 million years ago, with the destruction of the dinosaurs. Monteys has been able to capture the explosive element of this scene with clever use of panel construction, choice of colour and use of line.
Overall, Universe! #1 is a great foray into science fiction for someone who is generally known for humour comics. With wonderful art, that is lush and well crafted, and interesting ideas is a great read for those who like cool science fiction. It will be interesting to see where Albert Monteys takes this series going forward and if future issues will revolve around the events of this one or if there will be looser connections.
You can get Universe! #1 for a “pay want you want” price on the Panel Syndicate website.