Seeds Of Change
Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows casts his eye over Ann Nocenti and David Aja’s The Seeds, out now from Dark Horse’s Berger Books imprint…
Writer: Ann Nocenti
Artist: David Aja
Berger Books/ Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse’s imprint Berger Books, curated by former Vertigo executive editor Karen Berger, was launched at the end of 2017 and since then it has published a range of titles. Its books have continued in a similar vein to the kind of titles that Berger would have overseen in her twenty years at DC’s mature readers imprint.
The Seeds is a dystopian sci-fi story written by veteran writer Ann Nocenti and drawn by artist David Aja, who is best-known for his work at Marvel on books like the Immortal Iron Fist and Hawkeye.
The Seeds partly draws on Nocenti’s career as a journalist, a discipline that she has returned to throughout her time as a comics writer and editor. Aja has carved a niche for himself as a superhero artist with an instantly recognisable, idiosyncratic style. It is a sci-fi story that Nocenti revealed in her afterword here that had its genesis years ago and it is just a lucky accident that it feels like a commentary on the world we currently inhabit.
Even though The Seeds is obviously a work of fiction, it does have a documentary feel to it, aided by Aja’s graphically stark art. Nocenti has admitted that her aim here was to create a story which felt like a hybrid of reality and science fiction and she has achieved this in spades. She has always been a writer who brings a range of concepts and an earnest journalist’s passion into her work.
Reporter Astra, who works for muck raking rag Scoop, acts as the unreliable narrator of the story, who finds herself intersecting with Lola, a girl who has fallen in love with one of the aliens who are on Earth, conducting a series of sinister experiments. Seeds is a commentary on the diminished responsibilities of mainstream and more maverick media and it also features a tale of forbidden love stirred into the pot. Astra is a flawed but sympathetic protagonist in the crusading journalist tradition that has worked so well in novels and on film, like a modern day version of Woodward and Bernstein.
Reproducing Aja’s art in duotone rather than traditional colour lends it an extra visual impact. He is one of the best mainstream modern comic artists and he manages to combine clarity in storytelling with a refreshingly off kilter drawing style. It was originally intended as a four part series but the virus caused serious delay to it, truncating its publishing schedule. This trade paperback is the first time that readers can see the third and fourth chapters.
The Seeds is intelligent science fiction, offering ambition and making a cerebral commentary on our society. Editor Karen Berger has lost none of her taste for stories that make the reader stop and think and The Seeds is a worthy addition to the library of books that have her name on it. Dark Horse Comics should also be commended for acting as a continuing umbrella for work of the quality of The Seeds and Berger Books’ other titles.