The perils and pitfalls of becoming an astronaut and working in the hazardous environment of outer space and beyond take center stage in AfterShock Comics’ upcoming sci-fi thriller.
Called “Astronaut Down,” this ambitious new space series arrives June 1. It is written by James Patrick (“The Kaiju Score,” “Campisi: The Dragon Incident”) and injected with intense illustrations from artist Rubine (“Search for Hu”), colorist Valentina Briški (“Eden”) and letterer Carlos M. Mangual (“Dark Red: Where Roads Lead”).
The story chronicles the adventures of Douglas Spitzer, a young astronaut trainee who’s being briefed and prepped for an uncanny mission into the abyss of alternate realities on a futile mission to rescue Earth from a calamity that has our planet teetering on the brink of extinction.
This wild endeavor puts Spitzer to the test of a lifetime, where anything that can go wrong will go wrong. His skills and inner conflicts will be challenged as a submerged truth surfaces to put everything at risk.
Patrick explained that “Astronaut Down” concerns an astronaut’s core beliefs and humanity. The series was inspired by the aesthetics of the 2020 indie sci-fi flick “Possessor,” directed by Brandon Cronenberg.
“‘Astronaut Down’ is looking through the lens of the NASA space program but when it comes to traveling to alternate worlds,” Patrick told Space.com. “We see the training, the launch, the failure of other missions. It examines the theory of an astronaut. The philosophy of one. What it takes to be that type of person. The sacrifice, the duty and the mentality. And then we challenge those things when it comes to one of the characters.
“The term ‘astronaut’ is used symbolically in this,” Patrick said. “An astronaut is a space explorer, but it’s come to have a more general meaning, so it’s the same term that refers to explorers of other realities.”
Related: How to become an astronaut
“Astronaut Down” is hopeful but also mildly bleak, and that tone suits the dark material well.
It’s “bleak about the physical state the world is in and the states of mind that are at odds about what to do about it,” Patrick said. “And that kind of mirrors what astronauts go through, having to be optimistic and adventurous amid terrifying and dangerous circumstances. And there’s a touch of horror in the book’s sci-fi to embellish that.
“Rubine’s linework is so clean and perfect for sci-fi,” Patrick said. “The collaboration has been wonderful for this story. And Valentina Briški’s colors sent it all home. I’m very lucky to be working with this team. I hope I’m fortunate enough to work with both of them again at some point.”
AfterShock Comics’ “Astronaut Down #1” launches June 1, with a regular cover by Rubine and an incentive variant by Andy Clarke with colorist José Villarrubia.