Fires Above Hyperion

Fires Above Hyperion could have been impressive to read, but poor design choices and overly familiar material make it a waste of time.

The color scheme is lovely, with rust, deep turquoise, olive, and the occasional purple. However, by choosing to use black type on these saturated colors, the book is often difficult to read, with the text blending into the background hue.

You can see some of what I mean in this preview page, but it doesn’t show later panels, which have black text on brown or dark blue, which makes it even worse. There were times I could not easily read this comic. And the content, yet another comic artist moping about a lack of solid love life, wasn’t interesting enough to make it worth puzzling out.

Fires Above Hyperion preview page by Patrick Atangan

You’ll also notice that this isn’t a traditional comic, with no word balloons. Text is mechanically set on each panel, making everything seem like a caption. Which means often, the image is unnecessary, just showing the person (often author Patrick Atangan) who’s “talking”. The emphasis is on design-y abstracts or static figures instead of storytelling. There’s no panel-to-panel flow.

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In terms of content, Atangan provides glimpses into his love life. In high school, he’s closeted and uncomfortable with prom. He’s warped by his first out relationship in college, since his partner keeps him a secret. After the breakup of a three-year relationship, he finds it hard to stay friends with his ex. Attending a wedding where a crush ignores him is painful. He can’t find someone who loves him and means it.

None of these stories were particularly insightful to read. Struggling through this book felt like an endless night with a drunk friend who won’t shut up about every bad decision they’ve ever made about romance. I didn’t care, and I was given no reason to interact with a book that had worked so hard to be so hard to read. I feel bad being so harsh about someone’s life, but just because something’s true doesn’t make it entertaining. (The publisher provided a review copy.)



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