Secrets are toxic … for the user and what he is trying to hide.
Writers: Hans Rodionoff & Adam F. Goldberg
Artwork: Alan Otero
Colors: Leonardo Paciarotti
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
What They Say:
For all of history, humans have been looking to the stars for answers, but what if the stars have been looking back? Do you believe reports of everyday people being abducted and experimented on by otherworldly lifeforms? Are the bright lights seen in the night sky the cause of natural phenomenon, maybe they can be explained away by our technological advancements, or are they something much more terrifying? Find out the answers in this book!
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
Steve is a typical salaryman: he has two children who he loves very much and while it is painful to be away from them, each night they video chat before bedtime, allowing him to catch up on their lives and what he may be missing, and tonight is no different. But as his son reminds him of soccer finals coming up, his daughter tries to pause the conversation by stating their mother wants to talk, and yet the impatient man cuts the child off by apologizing and abruptly ending the call. There is a reason he was so rude to his children – Walton has a secret he has been keeping from his family, and she was about to step out of the bath after a steamy shower … the true excuse for these extended business trips. While the lovers settle in for their illicit nocturnal rendezvous, Steve stops their extramarital embrace as a sudden flash enters from the window, with the adulator thinking his wife has hired an investigator to catch them in the act. Although his mistress protests it was only lightning, the paranoid man ignores her advice and insists on checking the curiosity for himself, quickly dressing and heading out the door.
Outside the hotel Steve quickly spots the reason for the flashes which startled him – a massive lightning storm is illuminating the night sky and as he tries to take a quick snapshot, one of the errant bolts strikes the unfortunate viewer and stuns him into unconsciousness. After an indeterminate amount of time the groggy man stirs from his forced nap, however as his eyes attempt to adjust to their surroundings, it is quickly apparent something is extraordinarily wrong, as he cannot feel anything. Only after his sight clears does he quickly grasp the severity of his situation: there is a corpse on a nearby table with its attached organs crudely dissected and grotesquely displayed upon floating displays, but the worst part of this vision is the identity of this supposed cadaver … it is his own body. His eyes have been observing from an elevated table and even with the best of efforts, none of his limbs will move as a pair of extraterrestrials enter and begin chattering in an indecipherable language. In desperation the most Walton can do is watch as they bring a strange creature closer to his remains and carefully place it within the thoracic cavity, and only then do they begin layering his own viscera in top, but for now all he wishes with every fiber in his being to wake from this insane nightmare.
With a novel approach established within the prior story, I was expecting more of the same for this issue and yet familial undertones portrayed within the opening moments depict an adoring parent, thus pointing to something more heartwarming, until we reach the following page and fall back into the duplicity with serves as the foundation for this title. Writers Hans Rodionoff and Adam F. Goldberg unfold the lecherous life of a dishonest man, and it does not take long until we stumble into the basis for this series, with something which appeared to be karmic justice striking from above, only to find it is nothing so divine but with more of a more curiosity driven objective. While this unusual unfolding may be an interesting twist to the narrative, at the same time this disturbing motive is all too familiar thanks to numerous accounts as reported within countless books, plus pop culture portrayals appearing on both the big and small screens. However while some may wish to believe in such alien abductions and life beyond the stars, there is not much truthful recognition within these accounts due to the disreputable sources of their reports – with stories being recorded within supermarket tabloids and other such nonsense journalism where nothing is taken seriously. And though the narrative does try to link the first issue with this central protagonist, there still remains a shadow of doubt since none of the doctors can accurately treat what is bothering him, all while readers begin to have a sense of disbelief when the notorious Men in Black make an appearance and seal the facts before it can leak out.
While the story attempts to peak our interest owing to this prime example of sensationalism, it is the humanizing elements within Alan Otero’s illustrations which anchor the story due to his charming opening page and expressive facial depictions, even though the issue quickly tumbles downward from credibility afterwards. And yet thanks to Leonardo Paciarotti’s warm selection of colors to ground the heartwarming chat between parent and children, readers still are able to form a connection to this momentary sequence, all while the tale departs from reality once the sky erupts in a shimmering scene of ethereal illumination, made all the more glorious in conjunction to the splendid application of electrical tones. However once we are introduced to the climax of the tale, this is where the imagery becomes grotesquely unique with an all too realistically depicted eye that eerily greets us after the darkness, made that much more memorable after careful manipulation of the pupil and a sickening sheen upon the disembodied orb. However after this introduction, the following pages have an almost comical presence since the terror is too outrageous to produce any true panic within the reader, teetering on the irrational and making the examination seem delusional; in fact when I first witnessed this analysis, the impracticality of these events seemed very reminiscent to a pseudo-documentary called Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction, which was almost immediately mocked due to the skepticism of presented facts, and then ridiculed after it was revealed to be a fake. It is type of pessimism which hangs over this issue and lingers long after the man wakes from his kidnapping, all while the suitably acceptable panels portray a story which projects us into a world which does not believe itself.
Conspiracy continues to present stories which border upon the thin line between truth and fiction, and while the series attempts to convince readers to accept their own version of events, there is still the lingering veil of doubt which threatens to push us over the edge at a moment’s notice. Although the wonderfully expressive illustrations and amazing colors continue create a suitable atmosphere, there are still portrayed events which are too unbelievable to be accepted as reality. And with the nexus for these stories finally to be discussed within the next issue, one must either suspend their disbelief or ultimately watch as this series take us for another wild ride into the dubious.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: March 25, 2020