Off the Shelf — Trees, Volume 1: In Shadow

Trees cover

Nutshell:  The creator of Transmetropolitan, Global Frequency, and so many other instant-classics has dropped another on our doorstep.  There’s love, human sexuality, nature, evolution, on a world stage.  And unseen aliens that don’t give a crap about us and our petty lives.  Hop on board this train, so you can be one of the cool kids that can say you started reading way before everyone else. A

Story:  Ten years ago aliens — in the form of giant monolithic “Trees” — landed on Earth.  Now, things have settled back into a strange new version of normalcy.  From Italy to China, NYC to Norway, Somalia to Paris; humans are doing their thing.  But the trees don’t care.  Or are we missing something?

Thoughts: I always feared I wasn’t cool enough for Ellis.  Like I was reading his stuff on the sly, and once found out, I’d never make the cut again.  Luckily, I’m ready to give up on that bit of mental self-flagellation.  Basically, Trees Vol 1 is the beginning of an epic.  The storylines criss-cross in and out of each other, some connecting and others not.  Together they show what life would be like if Earth was occupied by silent alien life.  And that’s exactly how you’d expect; we’d freak out a little, and then things would shuffle around a bit and then resume their course to normalcy, incorporating/ignoring the new bits as necessary.

Ellis doesn’t just hit up the usual SciFi tropes and lay ’em out for you.  He gets into politics, personal motivations, ethics, and so much more.  This storyline isn’t a simple “well, we don’t recognize plants as intelligent, so what would happen if alien life were like plants, but ones that developed differently and don’t consider us intelligent?”  There’s something slithering under the surface, and I’m dying to see what happens when it breaks ground.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist the garden metaphor.  Trees!)

Deep thoughts ricochet around the ol’ brainpan after reading Trees, but that’s typical for anything Ellis pens.  Are we worthy of continuing on this planet?  Why do we do what we do to each other as human beings?  What does it mean to truly be yourself, and a vital part of this planet?  I’m betting there are folks discussing these ideas right now.  And getting their minds blown by the possibilities Trees has readers considering.  This is the kind of stuff you wish people in power would read, in the hopes of expanding their world-view and maybe making the world a better place.  Seeds — heh — of this type of all-encompassing thought would certainly help pull some folks out of their own navels.  Or other orifices.  One would hope.

As for the book itself, it’s organic, with a sketched-with-charcoals vibe that feels as if it was jotted down quickly, in order to get the story down before it’s too late.  Angular artwork that blooms into a panel full of hallucinogenic fever dreams every so often.  Which is absolutely perfect for this story.  Artist Jason Howard nails it.

I’d delve deeper into the stories of the various characters, but honestly?  I don’t want to ruin it for you.

Best Lines:
“Ten years since we learned there is intelligent life in the universe. But that they did not recognise us as intelligent.  Or alive.”

“Be exposed. Be open.  Be who you want to be.  It will never hurt as much as starving your own humanity of oxygen.”

Subscribe or Shelve:  Ellis fans have already gobbled these issues up.  But if you haven’t, and you appreciate the hell out of a good story, you need to too.

Publication 411: Collects Trees #1-8.  Scheduled to hit shelves February 24, 2015.

About Denise

Professional nerd. Lover of licorice.
This entry was posted in Comic book reviews, Comics & Graphic Novels and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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