Friday, December 15, 2017

Prisoner of the Stars by Alfonso Font

Prisoner of the Stars
by Alfonso Font
IDW Publishing, 2008

Alfonso Font (b. 1946) is a well-regarded Spanish-born artist who has illustrated comics in a variety of genres for publishers in the US and Europe. In the US, he did artwork for the Warren and Skywald magazines.

In 1982, Font wrote and illustrated a Spanish sci-fi comic series titled El Prisionero de las Estrellas ('Prisoner of the Stars'). The English translation was a long time in coming; not until 2008 did IDW release this 104 page trade paperback that contains the complete adventure.

The story takes place in the not so-distant future, when the Sun begins to go nova, turning the surface of the Earth into a scorched wasteland peopled by outcasts and bandits.

The remnants of civilization have taken refuge below the Earth's surface, in underground cities marked by overcrowding and social tensions.

As 'Prisoner' opens, a ragged and scruffy man is fleeing the authorities, heading for the surface and a faint hope of freedom. He does not know his name or his identity. After various adventures, he does achieve his goal of attaining the surface, and befriends a well-built young woman.

[This female lead likely is modeled on one or another well-known actress or model of the era......I'm thinking Brigitte Nielsen, but I could be wrong.]

Together, the duo team up to find the mythical 'city of the domes', where humans still are able to live on the Earth's surface in some degree of safety and comfort. But getting to the city of the domes won't be easy.............for the surface and the underground are filled with scavengers and thugs who are more than happy to make an example of anyone who strays into their turf.........

If you are at all familiar with the black-and-white art styles of the sci-fi European comics that appeared in Heavy Metal magazine during the late 70s and early 80s, then you will instantly be at home with 'Prisoner' and its artistic style, which can veer within the space of single page from meticulous, intricate artwork, to renderings that are sketchy and rather improvisational in nature. 

There is also a hefty helping of softcore cheesecake (the women of the surface all seem to have C-cups, and to enjoy wearing see-through tops......but then again, this is a Eurocomic, after all...........)

That said, Font does a good job of presenting his vision of a post-apocalyptic Earth burnt by a pitiless Sun, and his ability to draw faces and expressions with a minimum of linework serves him well in a comic with plenty of characters and scenes of dilapidated ruins.

The plot of 'Prisoner' is not the comic's strongest point; it runs in fits and starts, and at times relies on quite a bit of coincidence to stay coherent. But the ending stays true to the overall story arc and avoids contrivance.

Summing up, I can't call 'Prisoner of the Stars' a must-have. But if you happen to run across a copy that is reasonably priced, and you're a fan of sci-fi Eurocomics, then picking it up is worthwhile. 

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