'Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality' is available in stores now

Cover to ‘Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality’ #1. Art: Alexis Ziritt/Black Mask Studios

By Jarrod JonesSpace Riders is top flight comics. It’s your first copy of Heavy Metal, the one you bought at that flea market when you were thirteen years old and didn’t tell your mom about, tattered, dog-eared, invaluable. You can feel the pulse of legends in its pages. Press your ear against its cover and hold your breath — it’s there, faintly: the squealing pitch of a guitar getting absolutely shredded. The Devil is in there, somewhere, embedded in the molecules of the ink smeared across its pages. Space Riders, in a word, rules.

Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality is Fabian Rangel, Jr. Alexis Ziritt, and Ryan Ferrier kicking out a sophomore album that crushes the debut. Not just in its presentation — Black Mask Studios knows it has a cherry Mustang in its garage, and treats it as such. No, Galaxy of Brutality #1 nearly eclipses the legend of Space Riders with the evident confidence displayed on its pages. Gaze upon their works, ye mighty, and despair. This is swagger, justified.

Why? From the first, the level of craft we’re working with is as assured as it comes. Rangel and Ziritt are the monsters of collaboration, their efforts in sync almost on a supernatural level. The story beats shift more fluidly than ever before, characterization is more tangible than ever, and the cosmos is given more room to breathe than what is often considered possible. Then, almost as though they were showing off, there’s a staggering moment that wouldn’t have landed as hard if Ziritt and letterer Ferrier hadn’t been working completely in tandem. They were, it did, and you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.

Imagine the ancient cosmic horror that swirls about Grant Morrison’s shiny dome, shot through the prism of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Imagine a hero, flawed, vicious, and awesome, flung outside of his Skullship Santa Muerte to toss jaegers from its hull like we would a tick on our scalp. Capitan Peligro has returned to us, freeing refugees from shithead Vikers with a laser blast and a righteous sneer. Life is a better thing when Space Riders is allowed to soar so high.

Black Mask Studios/$3.99

Written by Fabian Rangel, Jr.

Art by Alexis Ziritt.

Letters and design by Ryan Ferrier.

9 out of 10