AfterShock Comics is one of the fastest growing new publishers of creator-owned comics, with a stable of industry veterans and exciting up-and-comers working on a wide variety of titles covering many different genres. From the erotic Victorian horror of InSeXts to the surreal sci-fi of Shipwreck, AfterShock is exploring the vast storytelling possibilities of the medium, and it’s continuing to expand its line-up in 2017. AfterShock has already announced two titles for the new year—Jimmy’s Bastards, a spy thriller from Garth Ennis, and Eleanor & The Egret, a surrealist romance from John Layman and Sam Kieth—and The A.V. Club has the exclusive first look at World Reader, a sci-fi series from writer Jeff Loveness, artist Juan Doe, and letterer Rachel Deering.

Loveness has done some very compelling work in the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe with Groot and the current Nova series, and he’s continuing to explore the far reaches of the universe with World Reader. The story centers on an astronaut named Sarah, who has the supernatural ability to tap into the history of dead worlds to discover what led to their demise. She’s working with a team of explorers trying to solve the mystery of what’s killing alien civilizations across the universe, and each new clue brings them closer to a danger that threatens all of existence.

Image: AfterShock Comics

Inspired by classic sci-fi stories like the works of Ray Bradbury, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey along with more recent films like Contact and Arrival, Loveness is crafting an existential sci-fi narrative on a massive scale, brought to life through Juan Doe’s bold, vibrant artwork. “When [editor-in-chief] Mike Marts and AfterShock offered me my first creator-owned series, I tried to pitch the biggest idea I could think of,” says Loveness. “Mike and the AfterShock team were completely on board and helped foster it from the beginning. I couldn’t have asked for a more open and exciting creative experience.”

“I’ve always loved big, existential sci-fi that takes a swing at the universe,” says Loveness. “AfterShock gave me the freedom to combine spirituality, sci-fi, and horror with Cosmogony and Apocalypse narratives in every issue. We’ve got a psychic astronaut traveling to dead worlds, talking to space ghosts and trying to figure out what’s killing life across the Universe…should have something fun and weird for everybody. And on art, Juan Doe brings such intense stylization to this. I’ve been a fan of his work for years, so it’s great to finally collaborate with him. I am not worthy, and luckily he hasn’t figured that out yet. Please don’t tell him.”

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Image: AfterShock Comics

These preview pages of April’s World Reader #1 highlight that stylization, and Doe does exceptional work creating a rich alien environment with his widescreen composition and dramatic coloring. The huge scope of the narrative is very clear in these pages, and the visuals will likely get even more spectacular when Sarah taps into her powers.

“Working on World Reader from Jeff Loveness has been a blast,” says Doe. “It’s very different from my work on American Monster and I’ve always wanted to do a story that takes place in outer space. Jeff’s framework for the story has some very cool, metaphysical narratives. It brings to the forefront the questions humans have had from the beginning of civilization, the questions of origins and why we were created and it is very much an operatic space thriller with some nice twists and turns.” Readers can learn more about this fight to save the universe when World Reader hits stands in April, but in the meanwhile, they can savor Doe’s gorgeous cover art and interior pages for the new series.

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Image: AfterShock Comics
Image: AfterShock Comics