In space, no one can hear you scream, so why are space explorers always so prone to stupidity? Don’t they know any better? Is it that obnoxious voice in human being’s minds called curiosity that drives them to their inevitable dooms, or has the lack of oxygen in space suffocated their brain cells and dropped their IQ’s by a few dozen points? These are the questions I constantly found myself asking as I read Delta 13 #2 from IDW…
…Written by ultra-talented writer Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Delta #1 introduced us to a crew of space cataloguers on a routine exploration mission. When they happened across a giant asteroid and decided to drop a crawler in, the crew discovered something they shouldn’t….a massive, seemingly man-made/alien wall, with a heat signature somewhere behind it. Delta 13 #2 picks up immediately after the first issue, with the crew deciding to go take a look inside the asteroid for themselves, much to the behest of their only logical crew member, Sanders.
While the first issue of Delta 13 was full of mystery and intrigue, this second issue has the story already beginning to feel all too familiar. The discovery of a strange object in space. The senseless need to see what it is. Deep, dark caverns. The finding of a thing and ignoring the danger of it (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you). It’s easy to say that Delta 13 #2 borrows from the playbook of countless space horror plots, Alien being the first one that comes to mind. How often have we seen the story about the space crew who goes traversing places they shouldn’t, going against literally every bit of human logic and even protocol? No, this story is NOT Alien, at least not yet, but it’s difficult not to feel a bit let down in this issue. When I originally finished Delta 13, I couldn’t wait to find out what the crew was going to discover. But with the horror tropes beginning to pile up, my own human curiosity has begun to drift away into the black void of space.
It would help if the characters stood out a bit more, but at this point, they might as well all be tropes themselves. Sanders and Gilford are the two which Delta 13 #2 focuses on the most, and, I’m sorry to say, if you subbed in Ripley and Dallas from Alien, there wouldn’t be much of a difference. By the way, I hate to keep referencing Alien, I really do, but the similarities are too strong to ignore. Sanders is the only reasonable one, constantly throwing out logic the way P Diddy drops beats, with lines like “I think this is an incredibly stupid idea” or, my personal favorite, “bringing ___ on the ship breaks half a dozen company regulations”…doesn’t Ripley say something like that when the crew tries to bring Kane back with the face-hugger on his face? I want to like Sanders, but with this type of rhetoric being the only thing that comes out of her mouth, she might as well be a talking stop sign, always trying to ruin everyone’s fun. Again, this is NOT Alien, but in two issues, these characters don’t have much of a personality other than one note stereotypes like Sanders, “the logical one”, or Gilford, “the stubborn commander”, so the inevitable comparisons are going to happen.
I’m also not much of a fan of the art in this issue by Nat Jones (Spawn, The Tripper). This isn’t to say he’s not a good artist, one look at his chilling cover art will clear that right up. It’s just that the style of Delta 13 #2 is too simplistic and non-descript for my taste. Frankly, there’s just not a lot to look at. One could argue that the basic art exemplifies the cold, endless recesses of space, which is itself rather empty and lacking of much else besides darkness. Jones does a great job of emphasizing this by splashing mostly blacks and icy blues across the page. The colors transport the reader to an environment where everything feels frozen and lost somewhere in a place where humanity is not supposed to go, so even while the art itself is a bit plain, it does fit the theme of Delta 13 #2 quite well. I’d even go as far as to say the colors are the best part about Delta 13 #2, simple as they are, because it allows the comic to exude a sense of gloom and doom perfect for these types of stories. You might even start to feel like Isaac from Dead Space, floating aimlessly through a sea of blackness, and it’s in this sense that Delta 13 #2 is at its strongest. We haven’t seen anything particularly horrifying yet, but the sense of dread being built lets us know the horror is coming, sooner rather than later.
To be fair to Niles and Jones, Delta 13 #2 is not, by any means, a bad comic. It’s just that it’s so average after a first issue that had my heart beating a little faster. Most everything about it is just OKAY. That being said, the issue does end on a note that should make things much more interesting going forward, space horror tropes be damned! If you’ve been reading Delta 13, it’s WAY too early to give up on it if the second issue disappointed you as well. Delta 13 #2 is asking the reader for patience, the way most horror stories should, and, knowing Niles talent, I think the reward will be great, we might just have to float through the pitch-black asshole of space a bit longer to get there.
By Matt Konopka