Ancient Astronauts is about Onys, a girl who fled her father years ago only to find herself threatened by his political machinations. On her way to confronting him, she is plagued by mysterious dreams which leave her questioning her own identity and her very reality.
The central conflict to Ancient Astronauts is a simple, and effective one. Onys has to get past the memories of her life in order to defeat her father. The couple of flashbacks that focus on Ony's history effectively establish what sort of man her father is, and why Onys would flee her home in the first place.
Ancient Astronauts' problem is that this simple story is almost buried under quite a lot of detail. The setting of the book is fleshed out, but often the reader is given too much information about this setting to digest.
This is particularly true of the Ancient Astronauts themselves, the titular magical order of the book. Several scenes throughout Ancient Astronauts involve one of their order giving exposition about their belief system and the nature of the threat they have come to face. This does not succeed in world building so much as create a slog of exposition for the reader to get through.
This is a shame because there are some good action scenes in the book. At the beginning of Ancient Astronauts, the balance between the action, character moments, and exposition is maintained fairly well. The reader is introduced to the world, sees some of the main characters, and is then immediately shown the danger those characters find themselves in. It is only from the middle of the book onwards that the balance skews too heavily in favour of information dumps. That isn't to say the galaxy of Ancient Astronauts is boring. The problem isn't the content itself but the structure through which that content is conveyed. After the story is over there are plenty of bonus materials in the book that focus on exploring background details, and characters. This would have been a more suitable place for some of the themes and ideas that the main characters discuss between them.
When Ancient Astronauts is focused on being an engaging space thriller it succeeds at doing so. Unfortunately, it is weighed down by also being a treatise on space magic. If readers can get past the somewhat awkward structuring of the plot there is something to be said for this comic, but readers should be mindful of this flaw going in.
ANCIENT ASTRONAUTS / WRITER & ILLUSTRATOR: VINCENT POMPETTI / TRANSLATOR: ANDREW BENTEAU / PUBLISHER: BLACK PANEL PRESS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW