Written by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander
Art by Tony Puryear
I first read Concrete Park when it appeared in the 80-page run of Dark Horse Presents, and I was immediately impressed by what I saw. Tony Puryear and his collaborators Erika Alexander and Robert Alexander (who is given a co-creator credit) have put together a very complete and interesting science fiction story, and each eight-page story only scratched the surface of the depth of planning and intent conveyed on each page. It also left me wanting more, and kept me buying the anthology for longer than I'd intended.
Concrete Park was recently given its own limited series, although unfortunately that's been stealth-canceled by Dark Horse, with the last two issues to be printed as part of the second hardcover. Just days before learning that, I'd picked up this first volume because I wanted to read these chapters again, and was curious to see how the story played out in a different format, with everything read together.
Basically, Concrete Park is about a whole bunch of people who were sent to a prison mining colony planet, who either escaped from custody, or were released on the surface, where they coalesced into Scare City, a gang-dominated warren of homes and businesses. There are two main characters, so far as the reader is concerned. Isaac was a gang-banger whose actions got his little sister killed. We journey with him to the planet, where his prison 'bus' crashes on the surface. Luca is the leader of the M-80s, a female gang. Her territory has been targeted by other gang leaders, and when we meet her, she is in the middle of being set up by an ally.
Over the course of this short book, Puryear and company introduce a number of other interesting characters, like Monkfish the shape changer, and Silas, a gang leader who is really an alien. The complexity of Scare City and its various factions is pretty fascinating, and Puryear's bold sense of graphic design and figure work really makes this book look nice. His characters are all visually distinct, while he captures perfectly the sun-drenched environment they live in.
There has been a real resurgence in terms of quality science fiction comics over the last five years or so, and I would put this book among the best of them. Puryear has developed and extensive vocabulary for his world, often blending Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and other languages to come up with a vibrant slang argot. Everything about this comic feels like it was considered carefully and has a purpose.
I'm not happy that the second volume had its plans shifted, but having read this book in this format, I know I'm not going to complain when I pick up the second volume and get to read through it in one sitting.