A bold attempt at innovation: The Multiverse & making better decisions. Tesselation #1 REVIEW

The Tessellation #1. Writing: Mike Phillips; Art: Hernan Gonzalez; Colors: Javi Laparra; Letters: Julian Darius & Steven Legge.

Cover by Hernan Gonzalez

The Tessellation #1 by publisher Martian Lit is founded on a great idea, especially within the medium of comics. The basic premise is that this title is an anthology series that explores the Multiverse. Now, I know this basically sounds like any and all Marvel or DC titles occupying shelves this very day, but there is a hook here. Each issue follows a focal character across four separate, but related timelines that differ only in their branching from minute decisions. In the background of this endeavor is a branch story wherein individuals are able to traverse these timelines as a form of sado-masochistic voyeurism (the pleasure of watching people in distress), some clients opting to watch a variant version of themselves ruin their own life. What makes this idea unique, apart from the obvious, is the use of the comics form to pull it off.

These timelines are presented within four-tiered pages, each being its own universe. The idea here is that a reader may read one universe at a time by sticking to one tier per read, or they may ingest all of the possibilities at once, which would be interesting if EVERY page fit this concept. This marks one of many inconsistencies in a title that promises great things if we can just hang in there for a few trial issues. The Tessellation #1 is built on a phenomenal premise that falls short in execution; however, I would encourage every reader to return for issue #2.

Prose by Mike Phillips; Art by Hernan Gonzalez

James Beach is our protagonist in this first installment. Beach is not a very likeable character — across any timeline — which presents a writing challenge: how do we get the reader to care? Sadly, issue #1 doesn’t directly answer this question. Instead, it presents potential energy that makes me feel as though this series is just getting started. There are many seeds planted that hint at a bigger understanding of the multiverse at large, but these seeds are ill-watered and weightless compared to the human moments that are attempting to come through. My certainty in this title would be won if an overarching theme or concept was apparent at the center of this anthology, though if that is the case now, it is not presented strongly enough.

Mike Phillips’ writing is down to earth and realistic, traits that are invaluable in such a grandiose sci-fi escapade. The art is detailed, almost grisly at times, and provides ample emotional impact throughout each timeline. Though, the careful linework is often overshadowed by the flat coloring which takes away from the seriousness of some events. The combination of the prose and art comes across as stilted most of the time, each aspect of the comic fighting for attention that ultimately diminishes as a result of trying too hard.

Each iteration of James Beach follows predictable story beats, forsaking originality in lieu of a stable narrative. Gonzalez’s art is paced well, the four-tiered system displaying good knowledge of panel-to-panel and action-to-action transitions. The minute moments needed to facilitate a detailed multiverse are executed well but do not provide any innovation.

The formal creativity of this title is so apparent as to settle the anxieties of first issue jitters. The first steps of this series are plagued by predictability. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed this read due to my hope in the creativity of this title’s creators. With a grain of salt, I recommend The Tessellation #1 as an investment. Though the initial issue is flawed, the core concept presents a unique idea that warrants further inspection.

Help get this project off the runway by directly contributing via Kickstarter (where you can also read this issue). Want some more Mike Phillips? Check out his other work, Necropolitan, on Amazon!

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