Nowhere Men: Fates Worse Than Death (Review)
Story By: Eric Stephenson
Art By: Nate Bellegarde and Jordie Bellaire
Letters and Design: Fonografiks
Cover Price: $9.99
“Science Is The New Rock ‘N’ Roll.”
I was originally drawn to this book in much the same way as I am with most, judging it by its cover art (or in this case, lack of). The copy that I picked is an alternate edition, entirely white, with the title embossed within the blank space on the front in Helvetica font. It made a strong statement and perhaps in contrast to the stark vagueness of its cover style, the world created within Nowhere Men is rich, complex and painstakingly detailed.
Collecting the first 6 issues of an ongoing series, the story is split down the middle. The first part focuses on four super scientists known collectively as World Corp., a multinational company aiming to utilise science to create a better world. Celebrated like rock stars, Dade Ellis, Simon Grimshaw, Emerson Strange and Thomas Walker all have different visions on how to create this ‘better world’ which ultimately leads to bitter disputes and clashes that drive the supergroup apart. In the fallout that ensues, secret experiments and one ousted founder’s quest for revenge sets in motion events that potentially put the whole world in jeopardy.
The second part cleverly highlights how one misguided experiment conducted on behalf of World Corp. affects a group of space bound researchers employed by the company. Orbiting earth in a top secret space station, these hapless victims are infected with a mysterious virus that changes their bodies and gives them new abilities. The confusion amongst the group whilst they learn to cope with their afflictions works as a fitting example of how World Corp.’s decisions and bitter rivalries could ultimately effect innocent people on a large scale and also sets up a tandem story line which comes to an epic conclusion towards the end of the book, tying the various plot arcs and characters together.
There is a lot of exposition, but due to the scale of the world Stephenson is trying to create here, it never feels unnecessary or boring. Fictional magazine clippings and book excerpts interspersed throughout delve into the backstory of World Corp.’s founding members and their competitors helping to flesh out the characters significantly. It’s a technique that will be very familiar to readers of Watchmen but it’s very effective at creating a compelling and familiar alternate universe in which much of todays celebrity culture is satirised. It also gives you a view of the average citizen within the story looking up at these mega stars of super science and wondering what they are really like, not knowing what they are up to behind closed meeting room doors.
The artwork throughout is incredible. As meticulously detailed as the story itself and incredibly evocative of the different eras in which the story is set, Nate Bellegarde and Jordie Bellaire create fantastically strange and iconic characters with colours that jump off the page. When there is a lot of text, the backgrounds are understated, allowing the reader to focus on the characters and their facial expressions but when things become more action-packed, the art is incredibly kinetic and suitably epic. This gives the whole book a great balance between sic-fi intrigue and explosive action showing just how capable these creators are at exploring a myriad of plot themes. It really has something for everyone.
In Nowhere Men: Fates Worse Than Death, Stephenson and Bellegarde have created an exceptionally involved work of huge scope and endless possibilities. If this is what can be created over the course of six issues, then Nowhere Men promises to be a sci-fi saga of epic proportions.