Ecology, technology, journalism, separatist ideals, and moral/ethical debates set at the cusp of the human race’s demise all combine together for Dark Horse’s latest comic venture, The Seeds. The four-part series, penned by Ann Nocenti, released its first issue in August and set the stage for a dystopian saga in the not-too-distant future. Artist David Aja’s bleak black-and-white color scheme pairs perfectly with Nocenti’s intelligent, intentional storytelling in this gritty world divided by a wall. As expected, The Seeds #1 sets the tone of the series and establishes interesting facts about this society.
One side of the wall houses people who are still clinging onto the daily mix of Internet access, technology, and the social constructs that are familiar in our current culture. The other side, Zone B, is inhabited by Luddites – people who have abandoned technology in favor of living a “freer” existence with no jobs or rules. Zone B is hated by some people who don’t understand its existence and is a source of curiosity for others.
There are several interweaving storylines that bring two main characters together by the end of this issue. Astra is a disillusioned journalist and photographer working for a propaganda-driven news authority who wants to explore more substantial material in her pieces. She catalogs the human stories surrounding the wall and questions the work she is forced to do for her job. Astra wants to make her mark on the world and has an idealistic goal to bring truth, integrity, and heart back into journalism.
The Seeds #1 also introduces readers to Race, a morally conflicted alien in a sexual relationship with a human named Lola. He has fallen in love with her, but her feelings for him are murky at this point. His team is collecting samples from Earth during its last days for a big payday. They know an extinction event is coming, but the human race is unaware of how close they are to doomsday.
It’s an innovative twist to an “aliens on Earth” concept because they aren’t here to blend in, take over, or collaborate with humans. There’s an investment in Earth’s downfall, but even this particular group of “invaders” are not sure what will put the final nail in the coffin for humanity. The only being in the know seems to be their big boss, who will surely make an appearance in the future.
There’s also the issue of the bees and other wildlife. Some species have been completely eradicated, while humans are working to carefully maintain others. The story features birds who drop colorful commentary that lines up with the ongoing plot, and a queen bee has deserted her hive for some unknown reason. It’s the first issue, so there is still much more to be explored, but The Seeds' usage of animals certainly strikes some intrigue for the reader.
Perhaps the best thing about this series thus far is its thought-provoking dialogue. Astra’s conversation with her editor Gabrielle about clickbait, crafting stories, conspiracies, and the blurred lines between fact and fiction in media provides brilliant insight into their society and individual personalities. It also makes the reader rethink how they look at history as well as the future. Are myths forced into reality? And how real is “reality,” anyway? Gabrielle ties her experience with slut-shaming into this conversation in a disheartening way that makes you want to see more of her in this story. Overall, Astra shares some strong dialogue with interview subjects and solo debates in her mirror that are simple truths framed in a stunning way. She gets an unexpected story break at the end and intends to pursue it and make her mark on the world without her editor’s approval.
The Seeds #1 marched full steam ahead with setting a foundation for these characters and the upcoming plot, but the end certainly leaves a ton of questions that need answers — and it set the stage for Astra and Race’s juxtaposing goals to clash as they make new discoveries. It’s a hauntingly strange yet captivating first chapter of weighty material that will continue to unfold when Issue #2 drops in early September.