This is a very interesting period for independent comic book creators. Marvel Comics and DC Comics are struggling for a variety of reasons and there is a demand from comic book fans for engaging, thrilling stories and indie creators are trying to fill that void with their creator-owned work, which can only create a lot more healthy competition and push the industry to be better. And when it comes to new indie comics, Planet Zabor is a very interesting project.
Written and created by Ruben Palma and the first two books drawn by Harits Farhan (the upcoming third book will be drawn by Queny Joy C. Subong), Planet Zabor is a science fiction comic book that combines a bit of humor, action, sex and a very interesting Darwinian message that doesn’t become convoluted or beats you over the head with it, offering something quite unique in a market that might be saturated with superheroes to a lot of fans.
Without wanting to give away a lot of spoilers (after all, I want you to read the comic), this comic takes us to the planet where the comic takes its name from, where a civilization called the Zaborians have taken control over the land and reign supreme. It is a natural state of evolution and they are the dominating species, with their pig-like anatomy but quite smart and capable of operating with a logical mindset.
In this planet, humanoids are called “krrunchos” and they are ruled due to the fact that they have failed to adapt to the pinkish light of the two suns that rule planet Zabor, setting us up for the actual conflict of the comic: the fact that the Zaborians feel that they have a birthright to control the planet and rule the other species as the former are in the top of the food chain, thus kick starting a series of events that we are not going to address here to avoid potential spoilers.
Palma is very clear with the message that he is trying to convey through Planet Zabor: a situation where animals are the ruling class and humans are chased, hunted and even at times eaten alive due to the fact that they are perceived as the inferior and weaker species in the grand scheme of things when compared to the Zaborians. It is a commentary on how human beings treat animals and it is a nice metaphor to play with, at least from a creator’s perspective. How would animals differ from us if they were ruling? Would they do something different? How would you feel in that position? You may agree or disagree with Palma’s position and that’s perfectly fine, but it is done in a tasteful manner.
And I think that is one of the best things about Planet Zabor: while it tries to send a social message about animal cruelty and the Darwinian nature that rules our society, it never forgets that we are reading a comic book and makes a lot of effort to be fun, which should always be the main target of any type of storyteller. It is a thrilling comic that shows an entire new world from the very first page and Palma does it in a natural manner, which is very important to not overwhelm the reader. The more you read these two books, the more you’ll want to get the upcoming third book.
One of the clear goals as a comic book writer is to tell a clear and fun story, which is something that Palma excels at here and Planet Zabor is quite accessible to new readers, which is very important as you go along reading the upcoming books.
The art also deserves a lot of plaudits. Harits Farhan is a bit rough around the edges, but I personally think it was meant to feel that way and it fits the mood of the story. A very common issue with modern comics is that the art style is not a good fit with the kind of story you are trying to tell, but I think Palma and Farhan are a very good team and the results are there to see as the art feels dynamic, well done and it has decent storytelling, without you having to read the panels to have a good understanding of the panels’ sequence, which a lot of artists tend to struggle with nowadays.
Also a nice shoutout to colorist JC Campillo, who might be the book’s unsung hero. When you are doing sci-fi storylines, the colors have to really capture your imagination and look captivating, which is exactly what Campillo does here and that is something worth taking into account. Colorists don’t usually get a lot of credit, so I wanted to give him his time in the spotlight.
Another cool thing about this project was the fact that Palma and his friends did videos to promote the series, just like the one above this paragraph. It is a very good premise and it’s a nice initiative at a time where a lot of comic book creators seem to struggle when promoting their books, so this is something that I think is quite cool and deserves a shoutout as well because it shows how serious these guys are with their own projects.
It is a music video and one that I find very interesting because you don’t usually get to see things like that in comics, so it’s a different approach and I’m all for that, if you ask me.
Overall, Planet Zabor is an intelligent and well-crafted comic that finds a nice and healthy balance between comedy, action and message, which I appreciate a lot because it is not something easy to do. Palma has potential as a comic book writer and he has surrounded himself with a very good group of professionals, which can only make the upcoming books all the more promising along the way.
And before we say goodbye, here you have another music video they did for Planet Zabor: