Perhaps you’ve thought about what it would be like if an entire other world existed right next to our own, another dimension just outside of our grasp, but that could be accessed if only we had the technology. Perhaps you’ve wondered what it would be like to find yourself stranded on the other side with no way home. Robert Kirkman’s “Oblivion Song,” published by Image Comics since 2018, explores the concept of interdimensional travel in just this way.
When I first heard about “Oblivion Song” there were only three things I knew about it: the cover page for the first issue, the title of the comic, and the name of the author. Despite this, I was thoroughly aware of Robert Kirkman’s ability as an author and thought I’d give the comic a shot.
So far, twenty-one issues of “Oblivion Song” have been released, with three bound volumes covering up to issue eighteen. Throughout this short span of content, I’ve found myself well immersed in the alien dimension of Oblivion as depicted by series artist Lorenzo de Felici, and colorist Annalisa Leoni. In fact, it was largely the cover art that compelled me to give the comic a read.
Leoni’s color work is extremely digestible and easy on the eyes. She typically relies on pastels and muted colors, capturing the dimension of Oblivion marvelously in a particularly alien and mysterious way, while matching the atmosphere the story wishes to present to the reader.
Furthermore, Felici’s character design makes the characters feel like real people as opposed to idealized heroes. Oftentimes, I found myself thinking that even the protagonist looked less than attractive, but that’s exactly the point because the characters really are just normal people; they’re not barbie dolls.
But I can’t talk about Felici’s artwork without mentioning the creative, wonky, and mildly grotesque creatures that stalk the wilds of Oblivion. There is an abundance of strange inhabitants of this other dimension, the lot of them forming their own ecosystem and inter-species dynamics. Their entirely alien forms service to separate them from what we understand from our context of life on earth and produce a world that the reader can dive into and explore, finding something new and exciting at every turn.
However, there have been times where I felt like the art was a little vague on what actions the characters were performing, particularly during times of combat. And while this vagueness is typically used to preserve the speed of a conflict, there are numerous paneling tricks and line or blur effects one could use to preserve clarity and speed.
Though without context, the artists wouldn’t have had much to base their work on. This is where Kirkman’s world building comes in. The overall narrative of the story and what he wishes to accomplish is much larger in scope than what is presented in the first few issues, with almost every issue compounding and enhancing the complexity of the interaction between Earth and Oblivion.
That being said, the expanded cast of characters feel less interesting than they have in his past works like “The Walking Dead”. To be sure, the protagonist is a deep and nuanced character, but most of the cast just don’t evoke any interest, at least for me. Outside of the core group of four to five people, I found it difficult to recall what certain character’s names were, or what their place had been in the story. They were there, but many of them just feel like furniture, decorations on the page.
This is because “Oblivion Song” is plot driven, rather than character driven. As a science fiction story, it finds its standing and appeal more strongly in its scientific wonder and exploration. It’s more the ideas that matter rather than the characters. I think that’s what’s taking place in “Oblivion Song.”
As I mentioned previously in regards to the artwork, Kirkman’s characters do feel like they’re real people. So while I do criticize the comic’s characters for being uninteresting, they do nonetheless give off an authentic feeling in both art and in writing.
Furthermore, I wish to praise the comic for its sense of direction and the time of thought Kirkman has put into this project. From the first chapter to the most recent, the narrative truly feels as if it knows where its going, like there is a path that its following, and that path will be solid and tightly written regardless of how many issues it publishes into the foreseeable future. Not all authors are capable of this.
Despite not everything being absolutely stellar about “Oblivion Song,” it is a well-done comic on all fronts and deserves attention and praise from a wider audience. If someone asked me if I had a recommendation for them to pick up, it’d be “Oblivion Song.”