REVIEW: Skyward #6 by Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett, Antonio Fabela, & Simon Bowland

Skyward #6 is out 9/19.

By Zack Quaintance — With its first arc done (and done well, I might add), Skyward finds itself in an interesting place, one where it now has motivated characters with compelling goals inhabiting a world that the story can continue developing in unexpected ways. A key aim of any great storyteller is throwing myriad obstacles into characters’ paths, separating them from their desires and thereby forcing them to act in ways that complicate situations.

What Skyward has essentially done through five issues is convincingly create a situation—the  Earth is plagued by diminished gravity—in which the setting is liable to assail the protagonists at any time. As we saw in Skyward #5, something as traditionally innocuous as a rainstorm is vastly altered by the new environment, turned perilous and far more dramatic. One can only imagine how much fun it is to tell a story with so many possibilities, imaging the ways the changed world can pose new threats.

These creators definitely seem to be enjoying all their status quo enables as they catapult from one new environmental development to the next at a breakneck speed. This, simply put, is the type of comic that moves so quickly the novelty becomes part of the attraction, and, when the plot does slow down, the change in pacing makes whatever's happening on the page all the more serious or poignant. Basically, I’m as bullish about this book’s future now as I was at its start (which is very bullish, indeed).

Skyward #6 is the first chapter in which our main character also faces a new status quo. In the context of the hero’s journey, the intro arc ended with her experiencing a tragic call to action: the death of her father and revelation she can save the world by restoring earth to its normal gravity, subsequently undoing the top down classism that now afflicts the planet, thereby honoring the sacrifice her dad made to save her. She, however, is now a wanted terrorist pursued by the most powerful man in the world, a corporate exec responsible for her father’s death (who’s also profiting like crazy from lack of gravity).

It’s all in here, the good stuff that makes for a compelling story: character with searing motivation, high stakes, commentary on power, villainy, a treacherous setting where just about anything is possible. There are, to be sure, many books with solid foundations. I was reminded again in this issue, however, that veteran artist Lee Garbett’s vast talent in particular contributes so many near-intangibles to the story, little things like individual page pacing and slight facial expressions, making the book feel organic and real, allowing the whole package to really shine.

Overall: Skyward #6 is another great issue in an impeccably constructed and perfectly executed comic. It’s the first of a new story arc and status quo, and all indications are that this will continue to be a book to follow. 9.0/10

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Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.