Review: Onyx #2

(IDW 2015)

Story / creators: Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez

Colors: Jay Fotos

Letters: Shawn Lee

The female cyborg warrior Onyx has arrived on Earth to stop the deadly Spore from infecting our planet. After helping the IDGC army team sent into the jungles of Laos to investigate the outbreak near a giant city in Nigeria, Onyx and her new military allies must work together to prevent the Spore from infecting more life forms and transforming them into horrific raging monsters. But soon Onyx will face a new and even deadlier Spore-tainted menace

The brand new science-fiction horror IDW series from storytellers / creators Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez, featuring art by Rodriguez, colors by Jay Fotos, and letters by Shawn Lee, continues with Onyx #2, as the cyborg whose lone mission has brought her to Earth to prevent the same alien infection that blighted her own world, Pelimosa, from taking root in the core of our planet. With the vast population of Earth in 2083 living in huge cities that have covered most of the natural world, the remaining animals and vegetation now exist only in small, protected reservations, and the ravages of the Spore’s infection could quickly spell the end for all humanity.

With the Spore’s tendrils penetrating the Earth’s core and causing an electromagnetic dampening field that affects the strike forces energy weapons, the military team will have to resort to using more conventional firearms as they head back into the jungle to deal with contamination wrought by the Spore. However, in a Bio-Eugenics facility deep in the jungle, genetically mutated creatures grown by human scientists have now become infected by the Spore, and these abominations are eager to serve their new masters needs.

Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez keeps the story moving along at a brisk pace, building on the premise and characters established in the first issue, and quickly has the military team forming a strategy and preparing to move out to deal with the Spore. There are some nice moments of characterization for Abigail Loner Aquino, the telepath from Psi-Ops, whose abilities cause her tremendous pain - despite the psychic-dampening headband she wears. Abigail is still suffering from the trauma of team Avin’s initial contact with the Spore in the jungle, where she experienced a nightmarish glimpse into an uncanny alien dimension.

The camaraderie between her team-mates clearly makes Abigail feel even more isolated, her powers also seem heightened now, she cannot help but pick up what other people are thinking about her, or telepathically eavesdropping on what her commanding officers really thinks about Onyx. I like how this sense of isolation and loneliness is mirrored in some way by Onyx herself - who is permanently bonded to her armor - as it makes her seem just as cut off from the world around her, a point highlighted even further when she can’t taste the water she drinks, and she later states that she doesn’t even feel anything anymore. So, given this, it’s perhaps understandable that Onyx and Abigail seem to have a mutual affinity for one another.

Screen shot 2015-09-09 at 7.13.11 AMThe art by Gabriel Rodriguez really captures the frenetic sense of urgency and tension as the army leap into battle. We also get to see even more of Onyx in action during this issue, her gleaming armor looks stunning, and Rodriguez devises ever more stylish and elaborate uses for the suits plasma blade weapons as Onyx takes on the genetically created creatures from the lab that have now become infected. These new monsters are even more grotesque and unsettling than the Spore infected horrors we saw during the first issue. Indeed, when we learn the reasons why the humans created them, it makes for some disquieting revelations about how humanity maintain their super-cities, and the creatures leader is quite unlike anything Onyx has faced before. Jay Fotos superb colors and tones complement Gabriel Rodriguez’s art perfectly, and with the concise lettering by Shawn Lee, Onyx #2 is another highly impressive looking issue of this new IDW series.

With team Avin’s timely intervention, Onyx is able to free herself from a tricky situation, and together they strike back at the infected creatures from the lab. But when Abby has another reality warping vision of the other dimension some of the creatures slip away in the confusion. As Onyx and her allies regroup and prepare to continue the fight to save the planet, somewhere down in the darkness, the Spore continues to infect and subjugate.

Rom the Space Knight, Aliens, and the Island of Dr Moreau are just some of the many sci-fi and horror influences that Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez have brought to this series. Onyx #2 plays to these strengths, whilst also carving out its own niche with this neat mash-up of sci-fi / horror genres, and successfully delivers an exciting storyline with a plethora of strong and well-developed characters that collectively drive the action and drama. With its underlying themes of overpopulation, ecological issues, and its portrayal of a future where the planets resources have all but been exhausted, Ryall and Rodriguez have not only built up a complex and compelling vision of the future with Onyx, they’ve skillfully crafted a world that resonates very much with issues we face in the here and now.

Onyx #2 is an exciting, thought-provoking issue, bursting with wall-to-wall action from cover to cover. The care and attention to detail Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez have lavished on this title is astounding, with its action-packed storyline, great characterization, and impressive artwork; Onyx’s adventures are not to be missed!

PaulBowler-ProfilePic1Paul Bowler is a self-Confessed Sci-Fi Geek, Doctor Who fan, and Zombie Disposal Expert. He likes movies, comic books, and all things PS3. He likes to write about his interests, would love to write a novel one day, and also enjoys chatting to the many people he has gotten to know on Twitter. When he’s not busy being an Impossible Astronaut, he likes to take a break from his adventures in time and space to enjoy some of his favorite TV shows and movies, preferably with a nice cuppa tea & a sandwich! You can follow him on Twitter @paul_bowler, or find him at his website, Sci-Fi Jubilee.

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