Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: I.N.J. Culbard
In the near future, after Earth becomes uninhabitable, humanity now lives in a collection of floating habitats above the surface of the Earth called The Brink. Two Security officers, Carl “Brink” Brinkmann and Bridget “Bridge” Kurtis investigate drug use in the Odett Habitat, but a simple drug bust leads them to believe that cult activity has found its way into their Habitat, and chasing down this lead unveils a conspiracy that could determine the fate of the human race.
The real draw of Brink for me is the setting. People have just barely managed to escape extinction, and now they’re trapped together in tight quarters floating in space. Capitalism rules everything, with no true government. Habitat Security butts heads with the Unions, and of course Big Pharma owns the largest stock in most of the habitat, even sponsoring most of them. And you can bet they’re taking advantage of the anxiety nearly everyone in the Brink suffers from. Almost everyone is self-medicating with an anti-depressant called Nudge and eating Synthetic food with who-knows-what in it. The result is a blurred sense of reality that gives every scene in Brink a sense of the surreal. Almost Twins Peaks in space.
That analogy becomes even more apt once supernatural forces come into play. The largest direct issue plaguing the Brink are the sects, different off-shots of a cult that believes that Sun is an egg that will hatch and give birth to a space demon god. Multiple things are blamed for this phenomenon, mass-psychosis, side-effects of Nudge and synthetic foods, a conspiracy to force the corporations to take action about the perilous situation in the Habitats, but at the end of the day, it’s hard to separate truth from fiction.
That sense of not knowing is what really sells Brink, and keeps the reader in line with the characters are far as not knowing anything. Your guess is as good as Brink’s or Bridge’s. Speaking of the characters, I was a bit cold on them to start with, but as I got into the story more, I found it easy to relate to them and their situations. The dialogue flows in a conversational and realistic way that makes it easy to get immersed in the idea that these are real people talking to each other about terrible situations they’re helpless to do anything about. Still, Brink gets, say, a B- on characters for me(note: I pull that score out of completely nowhere. Just take away that the characters are sort of a weak-link in otherwise excellent writing by Dan Abnett).
A final note before I talk about Culbard’s artwork and then move onto a final verdict; the info tabs in lieu of narration are a good idea, but ultimately could have been removed entirely. As it is, they’re a distraction, hard to read, and don’t provide any information that you couldn’t glean from the way the story is presented on its own.
While I wasn’t exactly drawn in by Culbard’s artwork as much as I was by Abnett’s writing, it does have it’s pulses. There’s a lot of personality in the characters just by their designs and expressions, and Culbard is excellent at creating a sense of place. The panel layouts are also a cut above average, though I’m not entirely sure who deserves the credit for this, but since it’s a more visual storytelling element I figure I’d mention it in this half of the review.
My problem with Culbard’s art comes in the lack of detail that can make some scenes a little more confusing than they need to be, and the stiffness of movement, or even body language. In conversations characters seem to posture more like cardboard cut-outs than real people, and things really fall apart when the story starts moving quickly. There is almost no sense of movement, and this coupled with a lack of detail and stiff characters results in some very confusing and visually unpleasant action scenes. Fortunately, there aren’t many of those action scenes, but it’s still a black mark on some otherwise good artwork.
Culbard’s style is distinct enough and has enough personality that I realize a lot of this might just be down to taste, and if I liked his style more, I might be more willing to forgive a couple flaws, but unfortunately, it just didn’t grab me.
Brink is an interesting, original science fiction story that mixes genre and paints a picture of a dark and broken world with mysteries and confusion around every corner. The characters are compelling enough to carry the story, and while the artwork isn’t perfect, it fits well with the world and overall aesthetic.
Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.