Alternative Comics Beat: Trees
By Ken Porter
Written by: Warren Ellis
Art by: Jason Howard
Published by: Image Comics
Creepy and engaging speculative fiction
Warren Ellis is known for his original concepts and tight storytelling. When I went to check out Trees for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t read a promo or a preview. I did see the striking cover in an image before, but aside from that I just knew that the word “Tree” was involved.
After reading the first two issues I’ve realized just how enamored I am with speculative fiction. Now I know that it’s more commonly known nowadays as science fiction, but that name has taken on a stigma. We dub anything with laser guns or fantastical action as “science fiction,” when really the routes are in speculating things that could happen and how people would react to them.
In Trees issues one and two, we get to see a world where intelligent life forms have landed, but don’t know how to interact with us. They show up as giant trees, planted all over the world. The series follows a number of characters, including scientists and politicians involved with the trees, and each scene builds to the mystery around the living structures.
Why it’s a great alternative
Like I said, most science fiction relies on action and explosions with high-tech gear or superpowers. While there are action scenes in Trees, the story focuses more on the mystery and how this would affect human life on Earth. Don’t get me wrong, I love action and explosions as much as the next sci-fi fan, but sometimes I just want a good, creepy story about futuristic or fantastical settings. Many of the first science fiction books were also horror, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This comic book captures that same kind of wonder and puts it in a modern day, global setting.
The book is far different from other comic books I’m reading right now, even if they are science fiction stories. It’s something I look forward to now each month, even after two issues.
Who would like Trees?
If you’re a fan of Warren Ellis or Jason Howard’s work, then this book is right up your alley. You get some of Ellis’ best storytelling and Howard’s best artwork. I think people who enjoy creepy science fiction stories like Who Goes There? (also known as The Thing) would really eat this up. I’m also reading Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and soon to be released Acceptance) and it has that same kind of science fiction or speculative tone.
If any of those sound like fun reads to you, or if you love Ellis and Howard’s work, pick up the first two issues of Trees and start diving into the mystery behind the extraterrestrial flora.
Ken Porter is presently interning with Cosmic Book News and also writes comic books including "Ink Ribbon" from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year's Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in "Artifacts" #33.