John Carpenter's Tales of Science Fiction: Vortex #3 Review: Further Character Development as Tension Ramps Up

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Commander Munro begins to have nightmares of her past. Dixon, Cheron, Andersen, and Taylor's team return to the mining facility.

The station's doctor, an older man named Grigory, gets a weird case when Josie becomes his patient. She was last seen with Andersen, the sole survivor of the mining facility's disaster.

John Carpenter's Tales of Science Fiction: Vortex #3 cover by Tim Bradstreet
John Carpenter's Tales of Science Fiction: Vortex #3 cover by Tim Bradstreet

Vortex falls back into its slow-boil pattern with this issue, which has proven to be a strength of writer Mike Sizemore. This book's compelling plot has been slowly growing in small yet significant moments while the large cast of characters have been able to develop in the foreground.

Important plot advancement does occur in this issue with the exploration of the mining facility by Dixon and Taylor's people. This can advance slowly while tension builds, exacerbated by the double-agent Andersen. We still don't know what Andersen's angle is or what he even is. We are only given hints of malevolence.

Sizemore's grasp of what makes good sci-fi horror is shown more with each scene, keeping the mystery alive with only small and often perplexing reveals. This could easily turn a reader off if it weren't for captivating characters like Dixon, Cheron, and Taylor to keep things interesting. Taylor especially surprises with how layered he has turned out to be. His initial introduction painted him as a callous company man, hardened by his former military service and the need for a paycheck. He has been shown to be far more than that, showing genuine curiosity and concern for the disaster that has befallen this space station and its mine.

There's something to be said about how patently cool the sci-fi concepts are here. The wormhole connecting our solar system with this unknown sector of space invokes the criminally underrated Event Horizon. The atmospheric shield of Taylor, the artificial light sources, and the setting of a fully functional space station all make for a cool setting.

This is all brought to life by the excellent artwork of Dave and Pete Kennedy. Vortex's universe is highly detailed, leans on realism, and yet each character is granted a defining physical trait to help keep the cast visually unique and lessen confusion. The technology and ships are given a unifying aesthetic to create a cohesive aesthetic. The colors waver between saturated lights and oppressive darks to keep everything off and uncomfortable. The inking is a little thin, but that's not too much of a problem in the grand scheme of the comic.

Vortex #3 gives the characters and the readers time to ponder what has happened in the previous issue while advancing the plot in subtle and unnerving ways. Sizemore and the Kennedy's present another compelling sci-fi horror entry, and it comes highly recommended. Check it out.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.