The key to survival is evolution. Never has a comic book explained that better than this one. Our exploration and discovery of the universe and what it holds are constantly growing, our knowledge of such constantly increasing. Red Rising: Sons of Ares takes things a step further and adds colonization into the mix. Humans had to change, be altered, to survive and flourish in these new environments—on new planets. A hierarchy of colors was born—the golds at the top, silver, white, bronze, copper, green, yellow, blue, pink, red. Each its own group of people with a certain amount of power—or none at all.
We are introduced to Varus Au Celinius, who is captured by a group of masked men and women of different color classes while walking the streets of Mars. He is forced to give a code to his data pad, but he isn’t intimidated in the least bit, even having his hand cut in half. He simply gives them the code, shows off his skill for identifying color classes, and says the group of people will be killed for what they’ve done. The issue ends with the building surrounded by armed forces.
A lot of this issue is made of a flashback. We see what Varus was like as a kid—from before he became a gold. He had to go through a lot to have the status he now has. He had to survive the wild as an infant, deal with bullies, kill. These primal survival instincts gave him the power he has. The lengthy flashback in this issue provides a lot of insight as to how the new, altered species of humans are treated—how they act, interact, feel, etc. Not only this, but we get to see how evolution has impacted humans as a whole.
There are a lot of small details in the script that hint towards bigger themes. The golds are revered and feared. Often times, individuals in the gold color class are called “Dominus” instead of their names—“Dominus” being Latin for “owner” or “master.” Additions like this are both clever and telling. It adds subtle hints towards what kind of society we’re looking at here.
The character interaction is natural at times (like when we witness Varus being bullied) but not at others (like when Varus inhales and starts calling out colors that humans smell like). It’s a really effective technique to use in a sci-fi story like this. The characters are still human, but things have changed a lot in the future, with an entirely new dynamic between living beings.
Pierce Brown gives us an incredibly immersive and creative story that Rik Hoskin perfectly pens in such a way that sequential art can tell its plot. Eli Powell’s illustrations are heavily shadowed, dramatic, and damn near perfect for the eerie tone of this issue. The line work isn’t the cleanest, and often times looks really gritty, like when Varus kills another human. This is perfect for the scene at hand, and the artwork varies to fit each situation, but is still able to look fluid and seamless.
The coloring is done really well by Jordan Boyd. It’s realistic at times, but shows us a new world, so not everything looks believable for our own reality. Boyd does an awesome job of creating a dramatic tone for the story. Even the speech bubbles have color in them to represent each character’s color class. When Varus is captured and hurt, he becomes weaker. To show his weakness, the gold in his speech bubbles is blended with others and ends up looking really muddy. It’s the perfect way to portray how flawless the gold supposedly are, and how weakness has a power over humans that can change the kind of people they are.
This is a fantastic issue that starts off what I’m sure will be an insanely enthralling series. If you’re into sci-fi, are a fan of Pierce Brown’s NY Times Bestselling Series, this issue is one you can’t miss out on. It’ll open your mind to a lot more than just the story at hand, and any book that can do that is worth a read.
Written by: Rik Hoskin
Illustrated by: Eli Powell