John Carpenter's Tales of Science Fiction: Vortex – Trade Paperback Review

With all communication lost from a mining asteroid, space station Benson dispatches a rescue ship to investigate. What the team discovers threatens not only to overwhelm and destroy them, but could ultimately threaten all life on Earth.
VORTEX is the second story in JOHN CARPENTER’S ongoing monthly anthology series TALES OF SCIENCE FICTION

  • Written by MIKE SIZEMORE
  • Pencils & Inks by DAVE KENNEDY
  • Colors by PETE KENNEDY
  • Lettering by JANICE CHIANG
  • Edited by SANDY KING
  • Cover art by TIM BRADSTREET
  • Book Design by SHANNON FORREY
  • Title Treatment by JOHN GALATI
  • Publishers: John Carpenter & Sandy King
  • Storm King Office Coordinator: Sean Sobczak
  • Publicity by Sphinx PR – Elysabeth Galati
  • John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: Vortex TPB, October 2018.
  • Published by Storm King Comics, a division of Storm King Productions, Inc.

Official Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Review:

    Science fiction or sci-fi, is a genre that fascinates many people but often avoided by many due to the technical terms or over complex plots. John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction series has been an exception to that. VORTEX also falls into the category of “easy to get into” but “hard to put down” horror graphic novel. It’s a 200 paged fully colored high quality graphic novel with some bonus artworks, biographies, and information. A collection of series of 8 Vortex comics released in 2018, and now released together as a paperback on Oct 16th, 2018. You do not need to read any other Science Fiction comics to read this but I am sure that this book, which is a standalone and self-contained story, will definitely make you a fan and would make you want to start collecting other books like Vault, Twitch, Surviving Nuclear Attack etc. as well.

   Dixon, the chief of a rescue team tasked to evacuating stranded humans across the space, is accused of making a harsh decision that resulted in deaths of many people, some of whom were also related to officials from the organization that oversees Dixon’s duty. Despite this history, Dixon is again tasked to conduct a rescue mission on an asteroid where a scientist and his team were reported missing. Dixon takes his trusted allies with him to the place and finds that something seriously wrong happened there. After returning to the space station, we see the slow and scary process of how a well-organized and protected human space station crumbles as many things go unnoticed, and many get corrupted. The story will remind you of Dead Space games, and Pitch Black film but at the same time, it feels so genuine and real that it leaves a unique impact on your mind.

  It’s a science fiction horror story that truly feels human, and believable. The best thing about the story is that it explores the human emotions, relationships, dreams, illnesses and several dilemmas that we can relate to right now, even if the comic is focused on horror or sci-fi. Every character has its own story that’s reflected through dialogues, and scenarios. The flashback scenes are few but shed light on important details that affect many situations and characters from the current story. There are hardly any technical terms that will make you scratch your head.  Dixon’s guilt, bravery and story is the main focus of the book but the beautiful thing about the storytelling is that every single character you see from the page one gets a fair treatment from the creators in terms of pages, and having their stories a proper closure. Thanks to Dixon, the broad focus of the story here is on the team of hard working people who make sure that there’s always a safe place to send more human families too.

The characters are from a diverse background, regarding the profession, nationality, and personality. The scenarios are handled like movie scenes. The pace itself catches speed from the first page, and despite the 200 paged format, it feels like every situation acts like an episode or a scene from a horror movie or a web series which could be because the paperback is indeed a collection of 8 individual comics. That helps the book to be interesting and not boring. The dialogues are to the point, and there are no needless paragraphs that hinder the fast paced story. I love the well placed quotes from Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, and such when there are some scenes that reveal a big twist or show a significant scene that emotionally moves you.

   The story is easy to understand and as you start reading it, you will get so invested in it that you’ll never realize how the time flies as you read it. The foreword, is very effective in knowing the context of how the story was created and what to expect. It’s a story set in a distant future, with humans having two homes now- Earth and Mars. Even if this is a sci-fi, what I liked the most about it is the fact that it is still believable as whatever shown is possible in hundreds of years later. There are no “friendly” aliens shown as a part of the human crew or self-aware robots/A.I.s cracking jokes or being hero. Everyone is a human, like you and me, and that’s what makes it real but then there’s a supernatural aspect akin to Lovecraftian horror involving an alien infection and something sneakier than Dead Space’s necromorph infection, and as sinister as B.O.W.s (bio-organic weapons) from Resident Evil.

  The characters are not cartoony, and appear realistic. The illustrations are of high quality, and the space station is a breath taking sight to behold. What Dead Space did for horror gaming, VORTEX does for horror comics in terms of horror through gore and violence. It’s not excessive but well placed for the maximum impact that truly makes you scared given the tension that builds up leading to such violent scenes. The monsters or aliens shown are nightmare inducing. The designs are well thought out in terms of human anatomy and don’t appear funny or weird, but truly frightening. There are no suggestive themes, and even if there’s one scene of nudity, it’s not in a romantic or suggestive context. There are some swear words used during few action scenes where characters are stressed or afraid, but overall, the dialogues are composed well, are not childish, and yet, easy to understand. This is a definite treat for mature horror audience.  

Overall, John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction VORTEX is a sci-fi book that can be considered a perfect introduction to the sci-fi comic genre to anyone trying it out for the first time. For the sci-fi fans, the graphic novel is a must have in their collection for the story that competes sci-fi movies or games, bonus artworks, and the content provided at the given price. With lovable characters, breath taking illustrations, satisfyingly scary scenes, this is a sci-fi horror graphic novel that every horror fan should check out whether you love sci-fi or are new to the genre. It’s one of the few rare masterpieces from sci-fi horror genre that can act as a catalyst to make more people interested in the already popular horror sub-genre.

Buy the Trade Paperback here:

Know more about the creators:

Our past articles about John Carpenter’s Science Fiction Graphic Novels:

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