By Zack Quaintance — I’ve hoped for a while that a book would examine some of the themes in The Seeds #1. I’ve wanted a story (one with a smarter concept than I could casually drum up) that takes a hard and knowledgeable look at our current media landscape, how it got this way, where it’s going, and what stands to happen to society as a result. That’s quite a big ask, I know, but, hey, I can hope.
With The Seeds #1, it seems my hopes have been at least partially satisfied. This comic is definitely concerned with media (also sexual dynamics and the environment), and in its first issue (of four) media is an interesting and prominent theme, especially throughout a pair of nine-panel grids wherein our protagonist Astra talks indirectly about the state of the media with her editor Gabrielle.
Gabrielle discusses how rumors and falsehoods that get repeated become true, how sometimes it’s what people want, how truth seeming pliant is a fine justification for inventing stories, and how—more than anything—their outlet needs a scoop. The takeaway, as I read it, is that when you call the media fake long enough, the media eventually bends to that perception. It’s to the book’s credit that this is conveyed via such a well-done, smart, and natural interaction, one that simultaneously raises questions about our own society while establishing baseline facts about the dystopian world of this story. I liked it.
And, really, I liked The Seeds quite a bit. The book is part of former Vertigo editor Karen Berger’s Dark Horse imprint Berger Books, and like other entries in that line, it features veteran creators playing out intricate and literary ideas with little regard for accessibility. The book is written by journalist/documentarian/comic writer Ann Nocenti and drawn by David Aja (Hawkeye), a powerful creative team with powerful aspirations.
It's also a team one can trust to tell a satisfying story. Atop its underlying complexity this book has many great understated character moments. There’s a love story afoot, one in which one party is duty-bound to refrain while the other is hesitant because the first party says their leaving—it’s a story to which many readers will relate.
Moreover, this is a comic that rarely goes page without a really freaking cool ideas of imagery: a nightlife venue called Club Death that simulates dying, a naked figure in a gas mask beneath a giant American flag with a shotgun and an old TV, a lunch of deep fried bugs. Casually bizarre and fantastic. Basically, if you’re into stuff like pop art or pleasantly-abstract indie filmmaking, chances are you’ll dig this.
Overall: The Seeds #1 is the work of veteran and ambitious creators. It uses complex ideas, commentary, and imagery to create a world and themes that linger with readers. The full scope of the story is not yet clear, but there is every reason to believe Nocenti and Aja can be trusted to deliver a satisfying execution. 8.5/10
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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.