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A spaceship takes off from the surface of a planet, told over a rigid grid of square panels, on the cover of Hedra, Image Comics (2020). Image: Jesse Lonergan/Image Comics

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This new comic about space and rockets has the coolest sci-fi art I’ve seen all year

Check out exclusive pages from Hedra

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Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

If you want to see something cool this summer, pick up a copy of Hedra, a new wordless one-shot story from Image Comics. Written and drawn by Jesse Lonergan (All Star, Joe and Azat, Flower and Fade), it’s a beautiful experiment.

Hedra has a simple story, told only through pictures, but Lonergan told Polygon that he wanted it that way. “The story [...] hearkens back to the classic space opera adventure stories of the 40s and 50s.”

“A lone astronaut leaves a world ravaged by nuclear war in search of life,” says the official summary. “What she finds is beyond all explanation.”

Lonergan’s goal was to push the visuals of the comic as much as possible. Your standard superhero comic usually has four to six panels per page, and if creators want to get really highbrow, they’ll do layouts based on a grid of nine. Hedra is told on a grid of 35!

“All of the pages are based on a five by seven grid of square panels,” Lonergan told Polygon. “I always began with that grid and whatever scene I had in mind. I would start with a more traditional sequence of panels and transitions and then I would begin to try and break them down, take them apart, and put them back together in new ways. In many ways it was something of a game I would play to see how far I could push the art and still have it make sense.”

These four preview pages, provided by Image Comics, only hint and the wild and weird places Lonergan takes Hedra before its final page. Hedra hits digital and retail shelves on July 29, 2020.

A rocket is fired in a curved polabora across a grid of square panels, in Hedra, Image Comics (2020).
A rocket’s arc concludes in a large panel of a mushroom cloud, in Hedra, Image Comics (2020).
More than a dozen rocket parabola arcs swarm a cross a page of square panels and mushroom clouds, in Hedra, Image Comics (2020).
Rocket arcs and mushroom clouds give way to city ruins, blasted fields, and dry bones, on a grid of small square panels, in Hedra, Image Comics (2020).

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