Air: Letters from Lost Countries by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker
This title came highly recommended from several friends, and it held true to its hype. On the back cover, there’s a quote by comic author Jason Aaron saying Air is a “post-9/11 fairy tale, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez, part Lost.” Which I think is the best summation of the adventures of Blythe, the somewhat odd flight attendant with a panic attack-inducing fear of heights. Apparently, the Clearfleet employment recruiter gave her a good talk.
Blythe meets a strange man calling himself Javad/Niko/Manuel, and in the post-9/11 atmosphere, she assumes he’s a terrorist. In fact, when she stalls Javad, her friend and follow attendant Fletcher even questions her ethic profiling. However, Javad never does anything outright suspicious, except change identities. His actual name (or at least what he tells Blythe) is Zayn. I really like Wilson’s set up. In her opening scene, Blythe and Zayn fall from a crashing plane. You know he’s involved with the crash, but you’re not sure how. Blythe’s then pulled into her memories when one of his aliases gets mentioned on the news as being involved in yet another plane crash. However, you don’t know if Zayn’s good or bad and you’re supposed to be suspicious of him.
To counter Zayn, there’s the Etesian Front and a man named Benjamin Lancaster. Lancaster tells Blythe from the get-go that the Etesian Front is here to protect citizens from terrorism in the skies when the air marshals can’t. Later, she’s asked by Adam, another Etesian Front member, to deliver a suitcase for him. Which, of course, anyone who’s flown the friendly skies knows the warnings against accepting packages from strangers. But when a drunken man starts a fight on the plane, knocks out the air marshal, and the Etesian Front steps up to subdue the drunk, both Blythe and the reader give them the benefit of the doubt.
Then a nice twist comes in that the Etesian Front aren’t the good guys. In fact, they’re here to hijack a plane. And we’re taken back to the beginning of the comic with Zayn and Blythe jumping out of said now-crashing hijacked plane.
Another excellent factor in this comic is how much the sense of time is lost for the flight attendants. I imagine that days don’t make sense when you’re bouncing around the world. Much less when Blythe discovers she’s a hyperpract, or someone who can navigate into different dimensions and lost places. Her first mission, so to speak, is going into a forgotten country to rescue Zayn from the Etesian Front. Fletcher and her roommate/friend/co-worker Mrs. Battacharya accompany Blythe on this journey and provide nice foils as the doubter and the grounder.
Wilson then takes the reader into the world of corporate espionage. With consequences that reach far and wide. That is if corporate espionage involved invading sovereign lands, shooting people, torturing people, and jumping off buildings. Also Blythe finds out that Clearfleet knows about her powers. And Clearfleet wants to use her for her powers. Romance might’ve been Blythe’s original motivation, but she’s going to become something else with or without Zayn.
Perker’s art fits the story beautifully. He pays careful attention to the uniqueness of each character. And does well with the challenge of the ever identity-changing Zayn. He brings life to all the characters and seems well-adept to doing layouts following the magical realism elements of the story.
Definitely a smart read with a touch of magical realism to make it an extraordinary story. I’m looking forward to reading the next volume. Especially since the trade paperback ended with the very awesome mystery of Blythe meeting Amelia Earhart.
See what Clearfleet’s all about and catch Blythe on her adventures, buy Air Vol. 1: Letters from Lost Countries by G. Willow Wilson and support this blog.