“The Space Heists of Vyvy & Qwerty” #1-2

“The Space Heists of Vyvy & Qwerty” #1-2 is a fun, fast-paced sci-fi adventure featuring a wise-cracking thief and her robo-sidekick. Together, they take on some of the most hazardous heists in the universe, but their first real challenge comes when Qwerty has to face someone from his past.

There are a lot of explosions.

The Space Heists of Vyvy & Qwerty Cover
Cover by Carlos Trigo

Story: Niall Presnall
Art: Carlos Trigo
Colors: Osmarco Valladão
Letters: Osmarco Valladão (#1), Renee Arabia (#2)
Publisher: Killjoy Comics

“The Space Heists of Vyvy & Qwerty” #1-2 (hereafter “Vyvy & Qwerty”) gets a lot of things right – namely, the imagination and design it takes to populate a believable space epic. There’s no shortage of sci-fi on the market these days and it’s a well-trod genre, so unique character, ship and creature designs are vital to generate visual interest. Trigo and Presnall put a lot of thought and attention into their cast and add enough quirks to give the book a definite 2000 AD vibe. “Vyvy & Qwerty” has the right balance of humor and grit to pull off a believable entree in these first two issues.

Story-wise, the book’s off to a great start, if a little crowded. Splitting the second issue into two might’ve helped draw out the tension and help sink us a little deeper into Vyvy and Qwerty’s relationship and their sense of loss. Presnall includes a lot of humorous dialogue pops that work, save one modern slang quip from Qwerty that’s not in character. The concept lends itself to a bevy of amusing stories, and Presnall knows that the relationship between Vyvy and Qwerty needs to be the connective tissue that bolsters their adventures together. 

Trigo’s art is angular, tight and crisp, with just a hint of rounded softness for Qwerty to get across his relative youth. Vyvy’s all angles and hips, which makes for good cartooning in the action scenes. However, there are some perspective issues throughout the book that pop up here and there, and those are down to a need to flatten panels to fit either a large number of characters or an action shot that covers more real estate than the panel can handle. Some of the action in issue #1 in particular feels a little stiff, and there’s a page in issue #2 that’s a good example of when a panel split used to solve this problem doesn’t fly. Qwerty’s on the table, about to undergo a procedure, his father’s in the background and a very disturbing lab assistant joins Qwerty in the foreground. The establishing panel at the top of the page is fine, but the strip below it crowds a close-up into two panels that are divided to separate dad, the assistant and Qwerty. Zooming in means the split’s necessary to preserve the spatial arrangement, but the split doesn’t work because it chops Qwerty in half and crowds his vulnerability into the bottom corner. This issue adds a bit of chaos to the overall experience, but not so much that the book’s unsuccessful, and Trigo’s imagination and flair for drama make up for it. It’s also important to note that it’s less prevalent in issue #2, and Trigo’s attempts to play with layout mostly work.

Valladão’s colors are fun – if anything, there are a few too many at times, but that gets to the good cheese factor pulp sci-fi aims for. The first panel in issue #1 features Vyvy in an outfit that matches the background colors and is a little confusing as a result, but Valladão’s work gels nicely after that. Of particular note is the bar scene in issue #1, where Vyvy & Qwerty move from a colorful exterior to a monochrome blue and grey interior. Trigo lays out the background exceptionally well, with cool machinery surrounding the square bar that Valladão then picks out in heavy blacks, blues and greys. The colors and linework fuse to give us a vintage ‘80s indie vibe a la “Grendel” or “Mr. X.” Valladão and Arabia’s lettering is competent, with nice tricked-out balloon styling for Qwerty and a complimentary visual quirk for his dad’s dialogue. The effect is minimal and clean, and each letterer keeps the font crisp and recognizable. Sound effects are sci-fi slick without losing their cartoonish pop. Arabia improves slightly on Valladão’s balloon placement, but the work to date is solid all around.

“Vyvy & Qwerty” is fun, interesting and balances a good sense of humor with storytelling zeal in these first two issues. The third issue will be live on Kickstarter later this month (September 23rd,) so there’s plenty of time to check out the team’s work so far.

The Verdict: 8/10 – “The Space Heists of Vyvy & Qwerty” #1-2 is entertaining, imaginative and unafraid to balance hijinks with some more serious character growth.

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