Red Rising #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
A wave of dystopian science fiction has come out recently, but few come even close to the quality of Pierce Brown’s trilogy of Red Rising, Golden Son, and Morning Star. Not even close, not in terms of writing or character or concept or execution. It’s amazing, and if you haven’t read the books yet, well…
Check this out: a man and his people have been genetically engineered to be miners on Mars, helping to terraform that planet for colonization to save the whole of humanity. The work is dangerous and many of them die and there is risk involved. They live short and fragile lives for the betterment of our whole species, and when he’s caught breaking the law by going to a park with his wife, he and his wife are punished by whipping. His wife sings a song that’s been outlawed during this punishment, a peaceful protest that gets her executed.
The man goes to claim her body and is set for execution because of it, but he survives the execution. A group of rebels – the Sons of Aries – rescue him, but he wants nothing to do with them. Yes, what the authorities did to him and his wife is terrible, but they’re working for the betterment of the species, to make Mars habitable. The actions of the terrorist rebels will only make things worse, only slow things down so that his people continue to suffer until Mars is ready for habitation. Nothing they argue or show him can sway him from this, or so he thinks.
He is shown that the terraforming was completed centuries ago.
His people were left down there to die for the greed of others.
That’s the first few chapters of the first book. I’m not spoiling the rest, you really should go out and read them all because they are very much that good, and after that you should read the comics.
A lot of writers come to comics and do the easy thing, the adaption. I make that sound like a simple process but it isn’t, and I know that – the difficulty of translating a work from book to comic is hard and leads to the debate of which is better or deeper (read the Last Unicorn for an example of a work where it could be argued either way). Pierce Brown and Rik Hoskin took a different route, however, and decided instead to take a look at things from the perspective of a different character.
Think of the comics, then, as Ender’s Shadow and the books as Ender’s Game. This isn’t an accurate allusion but it is close enough to cover the general concept of what is being built here. Artist Eli Powell has his work cut out for him, bringing the rich tapestry of culture and science that Pierce Brown wove to visual life, and he succeeds at something that many would consider impossible.
Red Rising is a difficult book that looks at the complexities of revolution and how things change, about what a toxic society looks like and what can be done to fight it. It’s beautiful and challenging and amazing, and if you like the idea of stories that will make you think and inspire conversation then this is something you really should look into.