Cosmic Cadets: Contact! Review (Top Shelf Productions)

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Cosmic Cadets Contact Featured Image

About Cosmic Cadets: Contact!

Cosmic Cadets: Contact! is a new space adventure to make you smile and think. Humanity has reached out to the stars, and the ESS Khonsu is helping lead the way in exploring new worlds. Son of the ship’s captain, Jimmil may not live up to his mother’s expectations, but he is eager to prove himself. Now he and his friends find themselves in place to make contact with an alien people, and also possibly the only thing that stands in the way of all out war.

Cosmic Cadets: Contact! is written by Ben Crane, illustrated by Mimi Alves, and coloured by Priscilla Tramontano.

The Details

  • Written by Ben Crane
  • Illustrated by Mimi Alves
  • Coloured by Priscilla Tramontano

Cosmic Cadets: Contact! is being published by Top Shelf Productions, and is available from April, 25th, 2023.

Space Cadets: Contact! Story

Cosmic Cadets: Contact! - Main Cover
Cosmic Cadets: Contact! – Main Cover

I’m going to start by saying that Cosmic Cadets is very much the story you expect it to be, and that that isn’t a bad thing at all. This is the kind of story that doesn’t hide what it is; humanity finds itself in conflict with an unknown and alien enemy, and the kids might be the only chance for peace in the face of adults who refuse to listen or compromise. That’s how the story lets you in, a perfect base for a comic aimed at the eight to twelve age range, but it isn’t the entirety of it as from there it makes the dive into some important and rather complicated ideas.

Emotions, and how they play a role in our lives, is central to the story. Brought into focus through a truly interesting twist upon the aliens, the characters are constantly made to face their own emotions and how they put those out into the world. The characters, and therefore readers, are faced with how our emotions, seen as personal things to ourselves, influence and impact those around us. What it means when we refuse to acknowledge the truth of our own feelings.

What I found particularly interesting was how Crane doesn’t leave it there and dives deeper into the concept, exploring specifically grief, regret and expectations and how both of those have a role in our relationship with our emotions. How easy it is for us to misjudge one emotion for another due almost exclusively due to the reason behind it. How easy is it for us to mistake fear for something else, even bravery, because of the regret behind it? When do we ignore how we actually feel in order to live up to expectations, whether placed upon us by others or ourselves?

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Cosmic Cadets: Contact! - Page 1
Cosmic Cadets: Contact! – Page 1

Yet as strong as these thematic components are in making this a strong story, it is held together by the cast of characters. Every one of them is strong with a role to fill but also enough nuance to make them fully dimensional. The main cast of four kids is a particular treat as they are a joy to follow, even if they make some less than intelligent decisions along the way (but they are kids afterall). I also really liked that something that early on could be seen as a flaw in the character writing turns out to be an incredibly important moment of character development, though I’ll avoid saying what for spoilers.

Pacin was largely strong throughout, with only the mild stagger here or there. Honestly, I feel any misstep in the story is largely minor and can easily be ignored due to other elements working so well. This is a story for certain people though, and I personally had to shake the cynicism that was clinging to me before I could fully enjoy it. It’s also a good thing to note that I am not the target audience, as much as I did like it, and those that are I feel will enjoy what it gives them. And any story that can open discussions like this does for kids is a great thing.

Space Cadets: Contact! Art

This is one of those comics where the art style just works so well with the story being told, to the extent that they almost become impossible to separate. There’s such a feeling of energy that emanates from the pages, even in panels of people standing around. It’s a style that works really well to make itself feel open and inviting, which works especially well in its favour when things get a little more claustrophobic at points later on.

Alves does a wonderful job of making each character feel unique, to give a sense of who they are at a glance. Every one of them is wonderfully expressive in ways that not only instantly convey what it is they’re feeling, even more important than usual in a story about emotions, but also in a way that feels unique to the character. Even without dialogue it would be easy to get at least a basic idea of who the character is and what they’re feeling, to understand much of the plot with little else.

Cosmic Cadets: Contact! - Page 2
Cosmic Cadets: Contact! – Page 2

I also have to say that Alves has a brilliant talent for creating the alien. There’s a level of familiarity that only furthers to enhance everything that is different. The aliens themselves have some truly beautiful designs that also feel very unique, or at least enough of a modification on what we’ve seen before to give them their own identity.

The colours by Tramontano perfectly compliment Alves’ art. I don’t know if they have worked together before but from just this they are certainly a good match. Tramontano matches the great alien designs with clever colour choices and helps create a sense of unfamiliarity that is still relatively comforting, until the moment it needs that extra boost into unsettling. I am also a major fan of any colourist who can make every panel colourful but still ensure the characters always stand out.

Cosmic Cadets: Contact! - Page 3
Cosmic Cadets: Contact! – Page 3

Have you read Cosmic Cadets: Contact!?

If emotionally infused space adventure sounds like a good pick for you or a young one you know then pick this up. Space Cadets: Contact! is available from your Local Comic Shop.

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