Fates Worse Than Death Vol. 1
Author: Eric Stephenson
Illustrator: Nate Bellegarde and Jordie Bellair
Release Date: November 20, 2013
Publisher: Image Comics
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Alternate History, Graphic Novel
All right, so, Nowhere Men was going to get put into one of my comic book review round ups but once I got around to reading it I realized it really needed an article all it’s own. One short little review was not going to cut it. Not for this series. I mean, it’s kind of incredible. I knew it was going to be the first time I heard about it but I some how let the series sort of pass me by until this first trade paperback came out. I don’t know how I forgot about it but I did and I’m almost glad I did because it would have been hell having to wait week to week to read these first five issues. It’s going to be even worse waiting for the next trades to come out.
So, basically, in this world you’ve got the Beatles and then you’ve got Dade Ellis, Simon Grimshaw, Emerson Strange, and Thomas Walker. Coming around in the 1960s, these guys created something amazing – World Corp. No, that’s not a band. World Cop. was a scientific think tank sort of endeavor that some how ushered in an era of science being cool. As one of the guys says, “Science is the new Rock n’ Roll.” Scientists and innovation essentially took on the sort of craze that in our timeline was dedicated towards pop culture and these four spent years at the top.
Just imagine the kind of world these four guys created for a minute.
In Nowhere Men, scientists essentially are rock stars. They have fans and followers. They inspire cult followings and hippie uprisings. They aren’t people who spend their days anonymously doing experiments in laboratories, only surfacing when they win awards or give TED talks. These people are constantly in the public eye. Included in one of the comics is a fake magazine’s a year-end readers poll asking things like whose the best dressed scientist, whose the most innovative thinker, whose the biggest creeper? It’s the sort of thing you’d have seen in US Weekly or something.
But it’s scientists.
I love it. I absolutely love it.
The main story itself flashes back and forth between the past and the present. It follows the four main guys as they sort of fall apart almost Beatles-esque. There are a few falling-outs, people get sick, one retires from the public eye. Meanwhile something crazy is going on up in space in a World Corps. run satellite and the fall out is quite astonishing for the workers stuck up there and the people then encounter upon their return.
You can read about that yourself, however, when you pick up the collected first volume.
That said, another thing I loved about this series were all the fake magazine articles, book excepts, advertisements, and more that was mixed into the story. Every few pages you’ll see some new ad for a new technology being developed by World Corp. Or you’ll see a Stanley Kubrick film poster for a movie about Emerson Strange. A lot of history is explained through these little tidbits and they were honestly probably my favorite part of the whole series. I just love this world they’ve built and the amount of effort they’ve put into developing it.
I know a few people who I’ve talked to have compared this book to Mind MGMT. I don’t like that comparison because I don’t like Mind MGMT. If I had read Sex Criminals I might put it on that level. As it is, I really can’t compare it to anything. Unfortunately, this first collected volume – which features issues one through six – may be the last we see of Nowhere Men. Issue #7 as supposed to ship last month but didn’t and is showing up as canceled on Comixology. It’s disappointing but hey. Who knows. Maybe we’ll see it return still.
Even though it may have been canceled, the world that Nowhere Men creates is well worth the experience that come with reading the first six issues. I can’t even imagine how great it would be to live in such a world – a world where scientists were at the same level as the Beatles. It’d be pretty freakin’ amazing.