The bees are swarming. What do they know that we don't?
In a broken-down world, a rebellious group of ruthless romantics have fled a tech-obsessed society to create their own...and a few cantankerous aliens have come to harvest the last seeds of humanity.
When one of them falls in love with a human, idealistic journalist Astra stumbles into the story of a lifetime, only to realize that if she reports it, she'll destroy the last hope of a dying planet.
How far will she go for the truth?
The notes The Seeds’ storytelling plays are familiar enough that sympathy sprouts from following trepid journalist Astra, an all-too-busy newspaper editorial known as The Scoop, a love story looked down on and fetichized by its non-conformity to social norms, an anonymous club of survivors… But also otherworldly enough that aliens talk of breeding seeds in humans, the world is divided and strangled by a technology-centered physical line, and nature is a point of view by itself. In the space where the mundane and the apocalyptic meet, Ann Nocenti weaves a story with complicated multilayered characters (including Lola, a disabled character recklessly facing the apocalypse with actual agency in every bit of the story) and strong dialogue that hooks you in to make you question, wonder, judge.
To generate that moody feeling that we’re entering a possible-yet-eerie world, David Aja’s art gets expressionist, with grayish green duotone coloring, delivering and overlapping bits of crude, stunning, dystopic, casual, alluring, gruesome. Stylized to match a sensation of being transported to a different place, but at the same time not hiding roughness for the eyes of the reader.
Oftentimes, the dialogue is happening out of what happens in the art, and it’s those moments where you have to take longer to linger on the page. To wonder how the faces of animals, the wings of flies, the shining of screens, the bees hives, reflect what the characters are telling. That lingering is especially enjoyable in the paper edition, with a wrinkled book cover that opens up to show the flowing pages of 9-panel-grid literally moving over the story. That structure, with a resemblance to Dave Gibbons’ work in Watchmen, forces you to take decisions on time and focus to each panel, as an imaginary ‘camera’ moves between scenes, sometimes opening the frame to showcase something especially revealing. It intentionally disjoints and rejoints dialogue and image, characters and scenarios, and blurs the line between them. The sensation it creates could easily be compared to a Fritz Lang movie translated to comics’ language.
All the little cues the art plays on, scene by scene, make the arrival to the circular overreaching ending impacting and cathartic towards the questions The Seeds poses. Shapes, actions and expectations take on a new meaning. When you close the last page, you wanna go back, search for the clues again, fill yourself with new parts of the mystery. And that second reading still has some unknown. Some doors are open, some close.
This story has deep messages about news fabrication, the ethics of journalism, animal rights, humans’ relationship with nature, how the ‘alien’ gets defined and how cultural signifiers reach to us, but it also has a lot of unknowns, unanswered ties, even horrifying consequences placed on the page. As much as Astra’s journalism moves between truth and lies, banal and otherworldly, sweet and terrifying, the visual story moves between those same layers. And some of the layers keep connecting and posing more questions till the last page, till the bees pose their antennas on our page, till the natural and the artificial mix, and the spell haunts.
The Seeds is a carefully constructed graphic novel about our relationship to technology and nature, journalism ethics, fake news, what we deemed to call 'alien', and many questions more. The complexity of the questions it poses to the reader makes you wanna reread it as soon as you arrive to its impacting ending.
The Seeds: Are We Nature?
Writing - 10/10
Storyline - 10/10
Art - 10/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 9.5/10
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