W – Johny Tay A – Stefano Realdini C – Giuseppe Pica
Unabashedly borrowing from pop culture that two generations can relate to, Captain Gaia parodically tackles real world issues. The influence is quite easy to spot. That’s ok because the choice to go with a parody and some satire is what got me digging into the project.
The basis for the comic issues is this: In 2013, Greenpeace activists attempted to board and disable a Russian oil drilling platform off the Pechora Sea. The ship was impounded and the activists (allegedly) brutally beaten. The unfortunate truth about issues facing our environment is that the issues aren’t merely black and white. There are politics upon politics wrapped around both the causes and remedies for issues plaguing our Earth. Along with that the condition of apathy plays its part. Even the heroes of the book have succumbed to the all to prevalent take from people as a whole. It is that apathy where the tale begins. The dance with the eco-villains has been done before and the members of “Team Gaia” have grown “edgy and disenchanted.” That’s a monumental failure of humans as a whole that is put on display. If the problem is not front and center effecting our every day lives in an impactful manner, then “eh.” Disbanded they’ve gone off to do what people do. They have their own agendas and self serving needs. This, of course, allows the window of opportunity for the ill-intended to take their own action. That alone is a cautionary tale. Sometimes the worst action, is inaction. Thanks to a certain Mr Putin, the tame for action has come again.
Don’t mistake the references as the tone of the book. Captain Gaia is very much adult oriented in its action, language, and violence. It’s fitting because the topic being dealt with is as real as it gets. Too often the importance of the message is lost by being to soft, to apologetic, by overplaying to the audience, or by not doing enough. This book doesn’t fall victim to the traps that other attempts in bringing awareness to a very real issue have done. Putting a real name to the villain (Putin) grounds the story in the real world and anchors the seriousness of it. Though the book does do service to the inspirations that it draws from, it makes it very clear what the point is. “When you’re destroying the environment you’re only destroying yourselves.” Captain Gaia’s words are point blank and leave no room for interpretation.
The book does a good job of what it intends to do. The message environmental message is clear. We, as people, being every bit to blame for environmental problems is clear. The action delivered goes beyond simply trying to service the book as more than an elaborate PSA. Captain Gaia works decently as a superhero comic on its own. As much as it borrowed, it also used a classic comic trope to deliver the heroics in the story. People have to come together to make it work.