Higher Earth #2: Heidi Flies

The Humphries/Biagini "infinite earths" saga gets weirder, but continues to move at a breathless pace.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Higher Earth #2

No, Heidi doesn't actually fly, but she does in the "Fly, you fools!" sense, so the bad play on words is still acceptable.

The first issue of the Sam Humphries/Francesco Biagini/Manuel Bracchi series Higher Earth didn't tell us much, but it hit the ground running and gave us just enough of a hook to make us curious about these characters. Higher Earth #2 doesn't tell us a whole lot more, but it also barely slows down enough to allow for exposition anyway. Instead, our protagonist remains on the run, discovering this sudden new world she's been drafted into as we do.

Heidi spent her whole life as a scavenger on Junkyard Earth, and now some guy – two issues in, we still don't have a name for him other than pejoratives from people who hate him – has taken her from that world and dragged her into a parallel one – there is no space, just infinite alternate Earths – where they are both illegal and hunted not only by the masked sniper who was after them last issue, but now the Higher Earth immigration jerks in their neat red outfits. One assumes Higher Earth is the governing Earth of all the other Earths, and our guy – we'll call him Bastard for now – worked for them but isn't now. Heidi was apparently supposed to be trained for something, as we get the impression that she's some kind of "chosen one" for one reason or another (oh, redhead girls, always the chosen ones), but she has no clue what's going on, and she ditches Bastard the first chance she gets.

Scrambling around a busy, ugly city that's advertised as Happy Fun Earth, she's never seen this many people in her life, much less this many buildings – so plentiful that she doesn't even think she's outside when she is. A down-on-their-luck family spots her a little food before shooing her off, and she wanders around looking for dinosaurs she sees advertised as part of a Higher Earth Conservation Corps unit – but when the federales and Bastard catch up to her at the same time, they're on the run once again – landing outside the city and in the face of a giant tiger-striped T-rex.

Biagini and Bracchi give us some great dino-stuff, and the rest of the work is solid and emotive enough to keep us interested in Heidi's story, even if their bodies can be a bit blocky. However, they're unafraid of crazy graphic imagery of dyin' dudes – one guy gets chopped in half, and another guy amusingly has his head sliced off, but wisely going to silhouettes for the actual gore. This gives us the shock of what happens without the exploitative blech of the aftermath. A fine line in graphic violence, it is, but so far, Higher Earth's hitting it right.

Humphries is taking a risk by not giving us the full scoop of his original series, trusting we'll be intrigued enough by the drips and drabs he dishes out and the plight of Heidi that we'll keep on going. So far, it works well enough, but with Heidi being the only likable character so far, it might wear a bit thin if its stretched out too long. It's fairly commonplace for new books to give us the what-for by issue #3, and that's often the threshold new readers will give a new series before deciding whether or not they're going to stick with it, so we'll see what happens then. The first two issues, though, are fairly imaginative with a breathless sort of pace to them, dropping us at the beginning and right in the middle at the same time. Humphries gets a vote of confidence.