Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews — now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Wasted Space’ #1, out April 18 from Vault Comics.

Cover to 'Wasted Space' #1. Art by Marguerite Sauvage/Vault Comics

Cover to ‘Wasted Space’ #1. Art by Marguerite Sauvage/Vault Comics

By Jarrod Jones. I honestly can’t name another comic writer working today who loves — loves — pulpy science fiction more than Michael Moreci. Follow him on Twitter and you’ll be met with frequent updates to his reading stacks, each one brimming with a wide variety of space-faring derring-do, from Tor paperbacks to dog-eared Del Rey Star Wars novels. His first novel, Black Star Renegades, was a heartfelt tribute to the days when Michael was just a kid, watching the Millennium Falcon streak across a screen of twinkling stars for the very first time. Science fiction gave Michael a sandbox to play in, and he’s been constructing his own narratives with increasing ambition ever since.

Now courtesy of Vault Comics comes Moreci’s own twist on the space operas he loves so well, Wasted Space. Instead of blending Guardians of the Galaxy with Star Wars, Moreci has instead tapped Philip K. Dick and infused his legacy with the whiskey-scorch of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. Vault has all but rolled out the red carpet for Moreci’s latest endeavor, commissioning artists like Marguerite Sauvage and Vault’s own Nathan Gooden and Tim Daniel for the book’s gorgeous covers. Needless to say, this is a beautiful book.

And Moreci has teamed with artist wunderkind Hayden Sherman, whose comics career is on a perpetual ascent following The Few (which he co-created with Sean Lewis) and AfterShock Comics’ Cold War (with Christopher Sebela). With Jason Wordie on colors and Jim Campbell on letters, the stars for Wasted Space seem to have aligned.

Variant cover to 'Wasted Space' #1. Art by Hayden Sherman/Vault Comics

Variant cover to ‘Wasted Space’ #1. Art by Hayden Sherman/Vault Comics

The story follows recovering prophet/perpetual addict Billy Bane. He’s a former shill for The Creator, a god-ish entity that seems to have a direct line into Billy’s mind. (Could be Billy’s just insane; the book leaves that part ambiguous.) Billy used to put his Joel Osteen grin and maddeningly-styled coif to use selling The Creator’s ominously monotone phrase, “All Will Be Well” to the spiritually hungry multitudes of the galaxy, and he was quite good at it. While it’s not abundantly clear in this debut issue how this went down, Billy’s evangelical bleating seems to have left the galaxy at the mercy of an authoritarian rule, something for which Billy feels incredibly guilty. Hence the drugs, hence the nihilism, hence the peculiar company he keeps.

Among Billy’s limited circle, there’s Dust, a blue sex robot (or “Fuq Bot”) who’s handy in a pinch, and Molly Sue, a gun-toting disciple of Billy’s that appears to have the power to literally project the vision of The Creator, too. This trio bears a resemblance to that of Black Star Renegades, which shows how closely attuned Moreci is to a particular brand of science fiction. Once you set those comparisons aside, you’ll find Wasted Space to be a vividly realized jaunt through a galaxy that begs to be explored — and might have some things to say about the present state of our own beleaguered world, to boot. It’s an opportunity for Moreci to cut loose, an R-rated saunter through the writer’s beloved sci-fi influences. And while it doesn’t go as balls-out nuts as Preacher did all those years ago, you can see Wasted Space‘s potential to reach for the classic Vertigo series’ wanton abandon. Here’s hoping it goes for it.

As for the aesthetic of Wasted Space? Big-budget mayhem. Think a Ralph Bakshi joint produced by the Wachowskis and you’re about there. Jason Wordie’s colors seek the neons found in the grimier fare of Michael Mann and Ridley Scott, which gives the issue that strung-out scuzziness Moreci is no doubt looking for. And that brings us to Hayden Sherman. This artist provides an energy to Wasted Space that isn’t hindered by this debut issue’s preliminary board setting. He draws like Frank Miller did in his prime, and makes this drug-fueled space Western look like Ronin. In effect Sherman inches ever closer to the superstar status the future no doubt has in store for him. Strap in for what looks like a wild ride. Wasted Space is here to provide it.

Vault Comics/$3.99

Written by Michael Moreci.

Art by Hayden Sherman.

Colors by Jason Wordie.

Letters by Jim Campbell.

8 out of 10

‘Wasted Space’ hits stores April 18.

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