Jeff Lemire’s Primordial # 1 comic review

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Lemire and Sorrentino immerse readers in the bizarre world of conspiracy theories and cosmic secrets in an alternate history of 1960s America.

With the success of series like Sweet tooth, Black hammer, and Gideon Falls, Jeff Lemire cemented his reputation for telling stories that skillfully blend the heartfelt and the irritating. In September, Lemire will find Gideon Falls artist Andrea Sorrentino (who also worked with Lemire on Green arrow) and Image Comics to be released Primordial # 1, an enthralling space exploration conspiracy story that’s sure to keep audiences going.

Set in an alternate version of 1961, John F. Kennedy lost the 1960 presidential election to Richard Nixon. Primordial # 1 follows Doctor Donald Pembrook who has just arrived in Cape Canaveral to work on “Project Pen Cape”. Much to the doctor’s surprise, the project has little to do with space exploration. In fact, he and a handful of other scientists are tasked with helping dismantle the base now that the US space program has been shut down. While working, Pembrook uncovers evidence that early attempts at spaceflight were more successful than the government had led to believe. He soon finds himself face to face with mysterious Russians at the dawn of a mystery of global and cosmic proportions.


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Monkeys in space in Primordial # 1

Lemire’s story oscillates between Pembrook’s tale and scenes of monkeys launched into space. While the scenes in space remain shrouded in mystery, they make it clear that the scope of the story is much broader than what Pembrook initially imagines. This sense of impending surprises is amplified by the slow and subtle ways in which Lemire unveils the world of Primordial. At first glance, it takes place in a version of the United States that is very similar to reality, but every few pages it reveals new details that illustrate just how different this timeline is. In this way, the audience’s journey of discovery mirrors Pembrooks, making it easy to identify and root the protagonist.

Much like Lemire’s writing, Sorrentino’s art presents a world that initially seems grounded in reality. But his designs and layouts become more fluid and experimental when they depict the monkeys’ journey through space. These contrasting styles add to a feeling of general tension and make readers guess what is really going on. While his illustrations for scenes set on Earth are quite tame compared to the madness of space, his sense of rhythm and composition is a joy to behold and brilliantly compliments Lemire’s writing.

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Sorrentino and Lemire have crafted a thoughtful, bizarre debut issue that sets up a high-stakes mystery for Doctor Pembrook to solve. The issue ends with a twist that raises a multitude of questions. The answers to these questions are sure to send readers and characters alike into some of the deepest and weirdest rabbit holes imaginable. Both creators seem determined to push each other’s work to new heights, but they manage not to alienate the reader. Lemire’s careful layout makes him easy and fun to follow with the maze he and Sorrentino have built. Primordial # 1 has a lot to offer fans of American history, science fiction, and good storytelling.

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