Being a huge fan of science-fiction storytelling, I was captivated by the premise of Warren Ellis’ Ocean. Ever since I was a young boy I wondered about the solar system, the planets, and in particular Jupiter and Saturn’s moons, one in particular was said to have water beneath its icy surface. That moon in question was Europa, which is orbitting the gas giant Jupiter as we speak. Indeed, as is alluded to in the story, if these moons were anywhere else but in Jupiter’s grip, it would rightly be considered a planet.
Ocean sets up these tantalising questions and throws us into the future where humans have discovered that there is life in the oceans of Europa, but life not in the manner we expected…
I understand Warren Ellis originally envisioned the premise for Ocean as a film, however it didn’t get made and he ended up doing a comic book version, and all the better for it. Indeed, if you look closely at the way the story is set up and the characters esp. the main character Nathan Kane, he looks very much like Denzel Washington, probably that’s who Ellis had in mind for the film. As for the story, it was a gripping, grown up science fiction thriller with some wry commentary thrown in for good measure. The premise as I outlined is that man has discovered alien humanoid life form inside thousands of ‘coffins’ floating in the ocean beneath the ice of Jupiter’s moon, Europa. There is also a giant ring like structure in the ocean, we soon learn that it is a device that generates a worm hole, but for what purpose? As the story progresses we start uncovering the answers to this mystery, and the reasons for their being there, and let me say it’s nothing to do with the benefit of mankind. Kane and the crew members on the space station, Cold Harbour, face a race against time to stop these beings from waking up, but a dangerous corporation called ‘Doors’ stands in their way. No doubt, ‘Doors’ is a thinly veiled allegory for the ‘Windows’ corporation, with all its human inhabitants onboard their space station deprived of human feelings, thanks (or no thanks) to modification to their personality (something which isn’t as far fetched as it sounds). They’re like walking zombies (or Borgs) following the every command of their insane superior, ‘Mr. Manager’. Ellis’ character’s are well realised from our protagonist Nathan Kane, to Station Commander Fadia Aziz and others , and the script is very witty and interesting. Chris Sprouse’s clear uncluttered artwork also suits the story well. I also learned a few things reading it such as a theory on Jupiter’s asteroid belt which I did not know beforehand. It’s the type of comic which makes you think as well as thrill and I really enjoyed it!