Four years ago Jonah was a space marine sent out to quell rioting on a distant colony. Now Jonah works as an interstellar trucker and doesn’t like to talk about his past. Between the price on Jonah’s head as an AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) soldier and his partner Alphius’ status as a Zozobian (one of the many “terrorist” alien races who violently resent United Earth’s expansion into the universe), there aren’t a lot of jobs they can take in the nicer parts of the galaxy.
A call from an old colleague who worked his way up the ranks of the Space Marines may change all that when Jonah is offered a chance to have his slate wiped clean in exchange for some off-the-books wet work. It’s an offer too good to pass up even though it screams of a set-up. What follows is a journey that will see two friends forge a family of misfits as one misadventure after another batters them around the galaxy.
It is unfortunate, yet inevitable, that one should draw comparisons to Guardians of the Galaxy when pondering Space Mullet, though the original web-comic predates the film by a good two years. Both franchises are based around an ordinary human trying to make his way in a hostile universe with an assortment of alien friends.
Given a choice between the two, however, I think I’d find myself choosing Space Mullet! There is far greater heart in its character interactions and Jonah—for all his faults—is a sympathetic schlub trying to make good rather than a criminal breaking bad. Better to compare this book to Joss Whedon’s Firefly if anything, yet I think fans of both franchises will find a lot to enjoy in Space Mullet!
While the “crew of misfits in space” concept may be well-trod, creator Daniel Warren Johnson is to be commended for crafting a unique and interesting universe. I can’t think off-hand of any other science-fiction reality where no-holds-barred roller-derby is the most highly acclaimed spectator sport. Few science-fiction works handle their opening exposition with the economy Johnson manages. We learn far more about our protagonists early on than we do about the universe they inhabit and the rules of their worlds come about naturally through their conversations rather than awkward information dumps.
Space Mullet! also sports a unique visual aesthetic. Johnson’s artwork has a natural grittiness to it which suits the dirty and disturbing world that he’s created. Despite this, there is also a certain sense of cartoonish clarity to the finished artwork, which is rendered in stark black and white with the shading rendered in bright blue.
Dark Horse Comics has this first volume rated as appropriate for readers 14 and up. I feel that’s a fair assessment of the series’ content. There’s no excessive cursing involving higher-level profanities, nudity, or sexual situations. There is a considerable amount of violence, however, particularly during the roller derby sequences, as one might expect. There is also one scene of an alien being ripped in half, yet even this is not as gory as it sounds.
Space-Mullet!, vol. 1: One Gamble At A Time
by Daniel Warren Johnson
Dark Horse Comics, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 14+