As the cover of Grimland: Ascension states, the year is 3085. Human civilisation has expanded across the galaxy – and, following a war against previously subservient machines, humanity continues to survive despite the terrible cost of the conflict.

The story here is a smaller scale one, however – focusing on a small team of three workers, harvesting gas on a remote and swampy planet. The team uncover a dark and terrifying secret that may well prove fatal for them – but may also lead to dire consequences for humanity in general.

Writer Thomas J. Campbell – in collaboration with artist Martin Kupski – has created a great story in Grimland: Ascension, which introduces readers to a richly detailed, lived-in universe with a deep and extensive background.

Everything feels tangible and logical within the setting; technology feels appropriately lived-in, beaten and perhaps in need of upgrading, which makes perfect sense given the industrial occupation of the protagonists and their place within the corporate hierarchy. There’s an undercurrent of timely social commentary too; the blue collar workers being exploited for profit and putting themselves at risk for the sake of their jobs, for example.

Having taken inspiration from the Alien and Warhammer franchises, the industrialised look and feel of the universe – along with its slang and incidental details – still feels unique and interesting, rather than just paying homage to those iconic franchises.

The gloomy, near monochrome look – with occasionally sharp flashes of colour – also helps to sell the bleak, gloomy existence of life in the 31st century.

With an excellent section post-story that delves into the background of the Grimland universe, there’s an awful lot here to both sink your teeth into and make you hungry for more tales in the same setting.

Like Campbell’s Abyssal Albion before it, Grimland: Ascension is a brilliantly written slice of horror, though this time with a dark sci-fi angle. Almost unbelievably given how accomplished his storytelling ability is, this is Kupski’s first comic book project – it’s a genuinely impressive achievement that the Grimland universe feels so rich and complete right from the beginning.

The only drawback is that – having enjoyed this first issue so much – there’s currently no more stories available. However, more are on the way – along with a card game too!

You can check out more information on the upcoming Grimland projects – and purchase Grimland: Ascension – from the official website: Grimland.world.

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