Approbation, the new comic from creators Derrick Freeland and Savannah Ervin, is the kind of sci-fi you’ll find in an anthology of speculative stories. Combining an off-world space adventure with a dark twist midway through, this is the kind of book that Hollywood would love to get its hands on.
The story revolves around two human agents who are assigned to escort a herd of small creatures for an alien ally. They travel on foot in a desert-planet in order to get the creatures back to their farm. Yet while the motives of their employers remain ambiguous for the first half of the story, a twist midway through reveals a larger plot in which the aliens use the humans for their own gain.
I’m a sucker for weird sci-fi and bizarre climaxes, and Approbation delivers both. From a writing perspective, Freeland is smart to convey the story so visually, using a sparse amount of dialogue and no narration. This allows the reader to fully engage with Ervin’s pencils and feel just as isolated as the main protagonists.
In many ways, it reads like a love letter to sci-fi horror hybrids like Alien and Prometheus, merging both a futuristic high concept with old-school terror. Freeland paces the story just right, and his script provides the appropriate inspiration for Ervin’s highly cinematic storytelling.
On that note, Ervin’s beautifully dense, black-and-white pencils are pretty stellar. By the time the story reaches its dark and twisted climax, the art jumps out at the reader in the same fashion as a well-executed horror film. Some panels are tighter and more succinct, while others are wide and large so as to produce a maximum shock effect. Ervin handles the execution well, proving that she can build momentum and hit every story beat with a director’s lens.
Approbation is definitely a comic I’d recommend, particularly for fans of the speculative science fiction and horror genres. I look forward to seeing what these talented creators do next.