Port of Earth #1 Review

Posted November 10, 2017 by Luke Miller in Comic Books

Written by: Zack Kaplan

Art by: Andrea Mutti

Published by: Image Comics

Remember pirates? Not Han Solo-esque space pirates, but actual 17th-century pirates? And not the romanticized Jack Sparrow-esque types, but the actual, living, breathing gross types that taught us the importance of fruit by basically inventing scurvy? Yeah, those guys. I couldn’t stop thinking about them while reading Port of Earth.

Now, to be clear, Port of Earth contains zero 17th-century pirates. It might just be the word “port” that initially brought it to mind. The book centers around the idea that Earth, at the behest of an intergalactic business consortium, becomes a port on alien trade routes because the ships need to use water as fuel.

The first half of the book is spent detailing this and sort of world-building the concept. (I say “sort of” just because Earth is still just exactly Earth except with an alien spaceport off of San Francisco.) The second half of the book follows two officers of the Earth Security Agency in a Cops-ian murder investigation where cameras follow two guys around and if the cops did more than just chase people.

That’s a pretty solid premise, right? You could pitch that. (And someone clearly successfully did.) I like that idea quite a bit, actually. I was just a bit disappointed in the execution.

Glossing over a couple points quickly here so I can circle back to the pirates introduction, but first off, the lead characters are basically the flattest, boiled-down essences of Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner that you could possibly imagine. One is a bit naive and idealistic, the other is a hot-headed idiot. That’s about all I can say for the characters that are supposed to be anchoring this thing.

Second, I don’t know who made the decision to just wash out all the color on this book, but it was not a good look. I had to double check twice to make sure I just didn’t have a bad copy or that it was supposed to be in black and white. I’m still not 100% convinced on either of those points.

Okay, back to the pirates. In Port of Earth, the intergalactic business consortium cuts a deal with Earth: let us build a port here, and we’ll give you the technology that allows everything to use water as fuel. Well, remember how during mankind’s Age of Exploration when the more technologically advanced civilization would show up and make a deal with the less technologically advanced civilization in order to use their resources? Does anybody remember that happening, like, even once? It wasn’t even like, “give us your stuff or die.” It was “give us your stuff and die.”

Why would the aliens not just do whatever they wanted? They’re clearly not benevolent here. Why put up with the hassle of letting humanity form a port authority? Humanity has no leverage in this.

Now, what I’m hoping happens in this book, is that all the aliens we’ve seen so far, are actually the equivalent of disgusting, murderous, colonial-era pirates. Then there would at least be the possibility they’d have the incentive to fly under the radar and make Earth a secret, backwater port. Maybe this book’s Federation equivalent already knows about Earth and just doesn’t bother with it, but the pirates found it and are using it covertly. Maybe there’s a 95% chance I’m reading entirely too much into this. But I still say that’s a cool twist, and the only way this really makes sense.

I probably just need to make a leap of logic here and take everything at face value. The focus of the story pretty clearly seems like it’s going to be on those two cops and their murder investigation. But I really wish this whole thing was about pirates.

About the Author

Luke Miller