Starship Troopers: Insect Touch (#2 – 3) – Gordon Rennie, Warren Ellis

3 out of 5

Humans: meet monsters; get overwhelmed; fewer humans than we started with retreat.

That is the template 99% of Dark Horse’s Predator / Aliens comics follow, and one of their other licensed properties – Starship Troopers – follows suit.  The difference, generally, between a good and bad version of this either comes through characters or the sense of threat; plotter Warren Ellis and scripter Gordon Rennie do okay with both of those, though we’re still surely stuck to that template.

Though I’ve never been a big Ellis fan, I’d say the pitch here is a good one, and aligns with the writer’s general ‘humans suck’ m.o.; explaining the details of the pitch beyond the Troopers visiting a bug-infested planet would give away an important reveal, but let it suffice to say that our human crew interrupted something important, and they’re really just in the way.  Rennie picks up the scripting torch in book two, bringing in his ability to sift through lots of moving pieces (science crew, military crew) without losing a sense of personality / humanity for all those pieces.  There’s a lot of death, and you could consider it of a red shirt variety – you get a name on this page and then are dead on the next – but it’s not quite that senseless; that is, you sort of understand how / why everyone dies, and it feels like it’s part of the narrative instead of just a body count.

None of this really pushes it out of that standard setup, but it reads better than most.

The art, from Davide Fabbri and Paolo Parente, is competent, with expressive characterizations, but also maybe a bit too flat to communicate the alien terrain and bugsters effectively.  The five colorists don’t really help this, as everything is bright and flat, really diminishing the sense of hostility of the planet or bugs.

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