There’s a terrifying alternate universe sharing space with our own. It’s populated by a race of vicious, buglike creatures reminiscent of The Borg who roam their barren world in strange ships made of an unholy mixture of organic and mechanical parts. All it takes to see the creatures who walk next to us in an alternate dimension is a pair of terra-whale goggles and the guidance of someone who has passed through another world and survived. Retired police chief Edwards is treated to this terrifying truth by Jacobus, a scrawny, terrified boy who falls out of the sky and lands in the Chief’s apartment desperately seeking refuge from the alien creatures hunting him. Edwards takes Jacobus under his wing in true ex-marine fashion, vowing to fight their strange enemies as long as possible to keep Jacobus safe. And so begins a frenetic odyssey across the country and eventually through the skies, jungles, and deserts of a world very different from our own. Jacobus and Edwards are separated and reunited, estranged and eventually reconciled over years of running, hiding, and learning to survive in desperately hostile circumstances. Jacobus reaches adulthood while on the run from his pursuers, moving farther and farther away from the world and adopted father that sheltered him. Meanwhile Edwards waits out the years trapped in the belly of a giant creature, having lost family, friends, home, and nearly all sanity. When the two are finally reunited, their tenuous bond is all that ties them to the human world. In many ways this is as much a story about trust, family, and growing up as it is about supernatural hijinks and insectoid life forms.

TenNapel’s stark black-and-white drawings suggest woodblock prints, full of chaos and shadows that take on density and substance, a perfect compliment to the mayhem and twists of his story. The story’s early chapters are deceptively simple, paving the way for a very adult story about faith, identity, and family that will lead readers to some very unexpected places before all TenNapel’s characters are reunited.

Earthboy Jacobus
by Doug TenNapel
ISBN: 9781582404929
Image Comics, 2005

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