Anomaly by Skip Brittenham
I read this book because Harrison Ford said so. And when Harrison Ford tells you to do something, you do it. I should probably clarify by saying I did not actually speak with the man himself, rather his endorsement of this novel was printed on the box it came in, and it piqued my interest. As soon as this book was on the shelf, I checked it out. There’s something about its size and shape that cannot be ignored, and it’s probably the fact that it’s twice as big as any comic I’ve ever read. If you decide to read it, I recommend clearing some desk space. When you open it completely, it’s over two feet wide. While that may seem pretty big, it pales in comparison to the size of the universe within. We’re talking grand scale, multiple races of alien species, and a detailed history of human kind that’s actually transcribed in the book if you care to check it out. All pretty neat stuff. Did I mention it’s pretty? Maybe pretty is the wrong word. Gorgeous, that’s the word I’m looking for. Each page is beautifully illustrated in full color. Even better, the panels are laid out in intricate ways that could probably be studied for days on end if you had the time. But I digress. Let’s move on to the most important detail of all, the story.
As I said before, our story takes place in the deep future. Space travel is totally normal, there’s a big government similar to Star Wars, and we continue to discover new worlds and make contact. That’s where our main character comes in. He’s the guy who makes said contact, only not anymore. For reasons that would spoil the experience, he is no longer in the military outfit assigned to exploring new planets. He’s been demoted to a peon, and has trouble taking care of his family. Through a series of events, he is eventually reassigned to his old position, and is sent on a new mission to make contact with a new world. I think it goes without saying, things go terribly wrong. In an unexpected twist, the story shifts from a futuristic, sci-fi drama, to a quasi-medieval, action fest. It gives an almost reasonable excuse for these events, so you aren’t totally left wondering what’s going on, but I have to emphasize the ‘almost’. For me, the transition and its explanations were a bit breezed over. They weren’t that bad, I have seen worse, but it wasn’t extremely original. In fact, I thought it was a bit clichéd. I don’t say that to ruin the story for you. I say it because if you feel that way, you shouldn’t be surprised. With all the movies, and comics, and books out there, I have found this happens a lot. Honestly I believe my expectations were probably just too high. I saw all the hype about this graphic novel and got myself a bit too excited. It happens. Don’t go into reading this with the expectation that it will change your life, and you will probably be fine.
I’m going to use this final paragraph to describe to you something that I did not utilize. This book has a smartphone application that goes along with it that allows the images on the page to become animated. Sometimes it’s as simple as small creatures running around on the page, and sometimes you get a full 3D character that you can manipulate, poke, and prod at. If this is hard for you to picture in your head, I suggest watching the book trailer online. It shows you visually what this app has to offer. It’s pretty cool, even if it is a bit gimmicky. It reminds me of watching movies in 3D. You put on the glasses, get all geared up for things to be flying at you, but it’s all worthless if the movie isn’t any good in the first place. Does that make this review sound negative? I apologize if it does. But I don’t make those statements to make this sound positive either. For the celebrity endorsed, ‘longest original full-color graphic novel’, this book has a lot to live up to. Is it worth reading? I’ll let you decide that. It’s fun while it lasts, and I hope the sequel can provide some answers to the questions it has left open in the first installment. We can expect that sometime in 2014.