COMIC BOOK REVIEW: TREES / AUTHOR: WARREN ELLIS / ARTWORK: JASON HOWARD / PUBLISHER: IMAGE COMICS / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 24TH
What if we have to confront the idea that we aren't the most intelligent species in the Universe? What if there is an alien race so advanced that they land on Earth and are so far advanced that they don't even see us as worthy of communication?
Warren Ellis and Jason Howard's latest book for Image Comics, Trees, is a magnetic sci-fi series that shows our world in the future where aliens have landed, but they haven't made contact. For 10 years, the huge 'Trees' - obelisk-like structures that appeared and landed in major cities across the world – have been causing havoc and destruction not by invading, but simply by just existing. The aliens who delivered these monolithic structures have disregarded humanity on earth and simply left the trees to stand on the planet causing humanity to do what it always does: adapt and survive.
Trees collects the first eight issues of the ongoing series and writer Warren Ellis has given the story a humongous scale and scope. Ellis has explored sci-fi before in the magnificent graphic novel Orbiter but he has never created a world as grand as the one in Trees.
It would be remiss to not draw attention that it’s incredibly interesting to have focus on character who is transgender and lots of dialogue is focused on sexuality and love in the walled city of Shu. Comics still remain a genre where important cultural issues can be explored and it’s cool to see a character treated like normal person.
The art is by Jason Howard, mostly known for his cartoony style on The Astounding Wolfman and Super Dinosaur, so there were worries that his style wouldn't mesh with the incredibly serious sci-fi tone of Trees, but he delivers incredibly. His art is punchy and without spoiling anything there are several splash pages in issue eight where he gets to show off some beautiful, yet harrowing imagery.
Trees is a very languid book, and compared to other modern comics it is arguable slow, but it works because there is a lot of information to take in about this new world. Ellis takes a lot of time establishing the world and developing characters and relationships. Some characters shine more than others, like Chinglei, who is arguably the backbone of the first eight issues as he struggles to come to terms with his sexuality and adolescence in the city of Shu, but there are other characters who could do with more focus and expanding.
Like any great sci-fi, the future world found in Trees is an allegory for our own and it brings up some interesting questions about our own morality, government and treatment of the rich and the poor. Trees is an essential comic book for any sci-fi fan and fan of Ellis' work. Trees could be another classic series for Ellis has the potential to be as good, if not better than his landmark series Transmetropolitan.