Bob Salley’s comic, Salvagers, landed on my metaphorical desk (all right, my email inbox) last week, and I was so stoked. I read that he’d been scripting this series since 2007, and spent a lot of time trying to look for a suitable artist. Knowing this, I had high expectations for this series—I wasn’t disappointed.
In the distant future, the aftermath of a galactic war has poorer planets hiring teams to scavenge ships for parts. Simply called “salvagers”, we follow the journey of Captain Bill Roenick, Teagan, Ty’r, and Brigby on a journey where everything goes wrong in the first arc, “Abandoned Cargo”.
If this all too similar premise sounds like Starburn, you’re not wrong; but there are lots of differences that make this reading this comic just as worthwhile.
The comic opens in medias res, with Teagan communicating with the rest of the characters on the ground. They soon discover that there are rogue robots on board the ship they are scavenging. What follows are lots of action sequences, quick thinking, and even a backstory that explains why Brigby got into the business. The universe becomes more and more immersive at each turn of the page, which I think is due to Salley’s plotting and the art direction given to George Acevedo.
Unlike the fast-paced dynamic of Starburn, we cruise along Salley’s incredibly detailed universe. We get to see the whole range of buttons along Teagan’s dashboard, the cyberpunk city where Brigby got into trouble, and even the different languages in some of the backgrounds. All these little touches make the universe more believable, and it’s such a pleasure to zoom in on the details. The action sequences are meticulously panelled to make sure the readers can take all of it in, and Acevedo’s gritty style is well-suited to telling the story of these underdogs.
Plot wise, the characters are intriguing and make me wonder how and why they got into this shady line of work. Apart from Brigby’s backstory, there are hints that the comic will also explore Captain Bill’s origins—like Teagan, readers will want to know how a navy commander fell from grace. Although Brigby’s history is fleshed out, his extensive knowledge (including many languages) show that there is a lot more depth to this character, something to look out for in future issues.
The only minor flaw that I have is with the lettering—while this is remedied with a zoom in option on my computer screen, reading the words in print may be more of a hassle. Although different fonts are used to show which characters are speaking, the words aren’t always clear, even magnified at 150%. It is a pity, as having this in print on my shelf would be worth the price.
As the first two volumes end, I am teased with how there is a lot more to this mission and this universe, and I can’t wait for more. I need to know what happens next, and soon.