Octavia Butler was a brilliant writer of science-fiction. Some would argue that her work was the harbinger of Afrofuturism, which is in part a movement that discusses black people being imagined in the future, oftentimes in science-fiction narratives when it comes to literature. Butler wrote about vampirism and young women who start their own religion. As well as being a revolution in sci-fi she also inspired and paved the way for black and women of color writers to be a part of this genre of fiction where for a long time Butler was the only black woman in a sea of white, older men. In issue two of ‘Psi-Lords’ the four branded astronauts who don’t know how they ended up on an alien planet, their ship is called Octavia Butler. Already this second installment of this comic book is a must read.
What writer Fred Van Lente and artist Renato Guedes have done can be seen as highlighting all the thought-provoking, good bits of what science-fiction does. In the beginning of issue two, the four who are being called Psi-Lords meet up with a feline species. The banter feels real, as if you were in a situation so absurd as to ask a talking cat for directions. Not quite ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ think more in terms of four Doctor Who’s where one has little to no impulse control. This gets them into a whole set of trouble and more species trying to kill them. Once they agree to behave more like a team, we see Scion who has been waiting for them to board their ship. One problem, Scion died in the first issue in a there’s no way he can come back from having his head explode into many bloody pieces.
Perhaps this is why the subtitle for issue three is called ‘Memories of the Future.’ It begins the training of the Psi-Lords, the history of how they gained their abilities and learning who they are now. Each is simultaneously an aspect, such as a warrior and their personalities amplify that facet. And apparently The Starwatchers are the enemy. It seems to be an ironic name considering stargazing can at times be connected with dreamers. Here in this comic book starwatchers are vampire-like entities who trap spaceships and suck them dry.
So now there’s a quest where these four need to wake ancient Psi-Lords, stop the Starwatchers and somehow make it home. But there are still gaps. Beacon is on point with her realization of the guru Scion and what his true agenda might be. Her memories of the future are mingled with her amnesia of the past and with that puts the pieces together of her crewmembers true mission was. Still, she may be too late. Van Lente and Guedes are adding to a genre with new characters. If ‘Doctor Who’ ever makes you pull in your breath, or laugh out loud, or if you enjoy science-fiction in general then ‘Psi-Lords’ the comic book series is for you. More importantly, to have Beacon repeatedly say Octavia Butler is one of the best parts of this comic. Honoring those who trail blazed sci-fi narratives are the juiciest of Easter eggs and this work does it nicely.