I have, many times over, sung the praises of writer Al Ewing’s The Immortal Hulk. That actually isn’t the first of Ewing’s works that I have enjoyed, but I have been wondering what a writer like that would do with a character he created and owned himself and not just when he was playing in Marvel’s sandbox.
The answer to that may be in Boom Studios’ series We Only Find Them When They’re Dead, a sci-fi series about, well, dead gods. I got to read the first volume, subtitled The Seeker, hoping the trade was as good as the premise.
At some point in the distant future, out in a far-off part of the galaxy, mining for asteroids has bottomed out and a new resource was needed. That came in the form of giant alien beings, referred to as gods, the sort that wouldn’t look completely out of place hanging out with Galactus. These beings, when they’re found on the edge of known space, are always dead, but their armor and tissues can fetch a pretty penny on the open market. Whenever one is found, autopsy ships, often with a crew of two or four people, head out to claim what they can. That can be tricky since large corporations already have licenses to many of the better parts of these dead gods, and law enforcement is there to make sure no one takes more than they should.
Enter Georges Malik of the Vihaan II. That’s an autopsy ship with a crew of four, and Malik wants to do one thing more than anything else: find one of these gods while they are still alive. Small problem: one of those enforcers watches Malik like a hawk because she has a longstanding issue with him, and no matter how much an autopsy ship tries to gun it, they aren’t really cut out to either outrun or outfight one of those escort ships. Officer Ritcher would like nothing more than to reduce Malik to atoms, and the series’s first five issues, collected in this trade, explain why. Malik and Ritcher have a history, and the rest of Malik’s crew–one longtime friend and associate and a brother-sister team where Malik is sleeping with the brother–are mostly along for the ride. How far will Malik go to see, well, whatever there is to see in the area beyond human space. Are there living gods out there?
And what do those things even want if they are out there?
Ewing doesn’t quite explain the gods. Not yet anyway. He uses these initial five issues to basically establish Georges Malik, a man with an obsession that may get him killed, particularly since it got a lot of his family killed already. But he’s also a man filled with guilt over the death of his family, and Ritcher isn’t going to let him forget it for reasons that are eventually explained. Ewing’s script bounces back and forth between Malik’s youth and his present middle age, all the while in a setting that allows Ewing a chance to discuss things like corporate greed and an environment, here seen as dead gods, that may be all that’s sustaining humanity for some reason. I’ll admit I didn’t care much for Simone Di Meo’s artwork as many of the characters looked very similar and I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening in some places, but as a set-up introductory story to the characters and the setting, along with an ongoing mystery, this worked out very well so far.
8.5 out of ten tiny asteroids.