Habitat by Simon Roy. Image, 2016. 9781632158857.
Contains material originally published as “Habitat” in Image’s Island Magazine 2, 5, 8.
I’ve been a huge fan of Roy’s art since Jan’s Atomic Heart and Other Stories, but it was his work on Brandon Graham’s Prophet books that made him one of my favorite science fiction graphic novelists. This book is no less weird.
Society has broken down in a large enclosed habitat, and so has the habitat’s ecosystem. Surviving humans have turned primitive, though they still have access to some space age tech. Many hunt other tribes or groups as food. After Cho becomes a Habsec warrior, he helps bring down an armed old man during a hunt and is promoted to Trooper First Class. A punchcard hidden in the spoils of that capture allows him to print a beam weapon much more powerful than the knives he and his companions wield. With it, he accidentally kills a superior officer. On the run, Cho falls into the hands of a group of Engineers. Instead of being the machine-worshipping torturers as he’s been lead to believe, they claim they use ancient know-how to keep the Habitat from falling apart. His presence leads Habsec and the Engineers into a conflict that threatens the Habitat itself.
I love Roy’s storytelling, but the real star is his art. The buildings of the Habitat recall a lost South American civilization being reclaimed by the jungle, and the soft edges to his art style make the technology and primitive weapons part of the same, decaying world.