Space-adventure comics can be a subgenre all their own. However, Space Riders by Fabian Rangel Jr. (co-creator/writer), Alexis Ziritt (co-creator/artist), and Ryan Ferrier (letterist) is a real trip. Published through Black Mask, Space Riders provides a colorful and action-packed thrill ride that comic fans new and old can enjoy! Just what separates Space Riders from other space comics? Well, let’s blast through these volumes and find out.

The Plot Of Space Riders

Black Mask’s Space Riders follows the main character, Capitan Peligro, a member of the notorious Space Riders. The story begins with Capitan Peligro floating through space with a knife jabbed into his eye. He recalls being in the midst of a battle against a rebel space fleet before getting attacked from behind. With the end of his strength, Capitan Peligro activates his homing beacon which calls his ship, the Santa Muerte, towards his location. He passes out after his ship arrives and does not remember his trip back to headquarters.

At HQ, Capitan Peligro gets treated for his eye and meets Yara, a robot woman. She hears Peligro’s story and psychologically evaluates him. She determines that he is not fit for duty and the colonel relieves him for a year.

After a year passes, Peligro meets a mandrill humanoid named Mono who collects him to rejoin the Space Riders. Mono is Peligro’s new first mate, and he and Yara, the robot woman, receive the order to watch over Capitan Peligro’s reinstatement to the Space Riders. In order to rejoin, Capitan Peligro must perform the following:

  1. He must complete three missions without requesting reinforcements.
  2. Capitan Peligro must not deviate from E.I.S.F. standard operating procedures.
  3. He must not seek out his former first mate.

While these orders seem simple enough, with the craziness and prominent dangers of space, will Capitan Peligro be able to complete his mission and rejoin the Space Riders?

The Plot Of Space Riders: Galaxy Of Brutality

Space Riders: Galaxy Of Brutality is the sequel to Black Mask’s Space Riders. Months after the events in volume 1, Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality begins with Capitan Peligro and Yara saving a ship full of refugees from space pirates. (The crew is missing Mono, Capitan Peligro’s first mate.)

A flashback occurs after the Santa Muerte Crew successfully rescues the refugees. It shows Capitan Peligro roughly interrogating a man for information on Satanus, a mercenary from volume 1 with a criminal history. Mono steps in to separate the two as he sees his Capitan going too far. The two fight and after Yara separates them; Mono leaves the Space Riders for reasons unknown to his crew.

Back in the present, Mono suddenly reunites with the Santa Muerte Crew along with other comrades they met in volume 1. With their reunion, the crew suddenly learns of an evil God from the beginning of time coming back from a long hiatus. This evil being has been accumulating its power and is now returning to destroy all life. The Santa Muerte Crew must travel through space for one, last, wild ride to defeat this evil God in order to save the galaxy.

The Artwork Of Space Riders

The artwork of Space Riders is a sight to behold. Alexis Ziritt takes readers on a florescent trip with his coloring and illustrations. The colors are so psychedelic and bright that they capture people’s attention right away. He uses opposing shades on the color wheel to help his images pop out of the page like a 3D effect. The downside to his coloring method is how overwhelming it can be. Depending on the reader, it may take time for them to grow accustomed to Space Riders.

The shades Ziritt uses can cause one to strain their eyes since he uses so many kaleidoscopic shades. However, once readers grow used to his style, he truly encapsulates the glory of space. Ziritt does not illustrate space as a hollow, black void. He does everything to make the vast realm of space a thrill ride.

His character designs are unique too. He features animal-hybrid characters who emote well despite their beastly features. His robotic characters, despite not having complete faces, also provide enough expression through their words and body movements. His human character is far from being a generic supermodel or weight-lifter design. He draws them with a rough and gritty exterior to showcase the hardships they endure in space. Overall, Ziritt’s artwork is the best part of Space Riders. The colors are intense and keep the reader’s attention while his character designs are unique and express an oddity befitting his work. His settings are grand, and he always manages to supersede the artwork from his last panel in his next one. If anything, the artwork alone should motivate comic fans to pick up Space Riders.   

Why Space Riders Is A Fun Ride

While comics revolving around space travel are nothing new, Space Riders manages to exploit the best features of the subgenre. The series exudes creativity, and the following sections explain why.

The Pacing Of The Story

Due to its limited issues, everything that occurs in Space Riders is fast-paced. From the action sequences to the character development, writer Fabian Rangel Jr. does not waste too much time in world-building. However, contrary to popular belief, this type of writing is actually beneficial to Space Riders. The series is not one that needs a lot of build-up to it. If anything, expanding the universe or trying to make it more complex would be a detriment. Space Riders knows what it’s supposed to be: a “quick-and-dirty” space adventure.

While on their mission, the Santa Muerte Crew never stayed in one place for too long. Readers do not grow attached to any of the planets they visit or the people they meet. But each location or character introduced in Space Riders plays a role in moving the plot forward. Therefore, while everything happens quickly, nothing ever feels like it is a waste of time. Another benefit to this method is that readers never have to wait too long for another positive of the series: the action.

The Action

As stated previously, Space Riders provides quick pacing and lacks genuine development in its characters. However, this is all forgiven thanks to its amazing artwork and its ability to be a rollercoaster ride full of action. The Santa Muerte Crew never seem to catch a break while on their missions through space. Each issue features a new obstacle the crew must face, and while the fight scenes themselves can be pretty fast, they leave a poignant impact on the reader. They are violent but due to the colorful illustrations done by Ziritt, they are also beautiful (as odd as that may seem).

The variety of fight scenes is also a treat for Space Riders. They range from hand-to-hand combat to mecha battles. The best source of action, however, comes from the battleship of the Santa Muerte itself. The ship is literally a skull-shaped vessel capable of shooting lasers from its eyes. Its design, while impractical, manages to strike fear into the hearts of the crew’s enemies. What’s cooler than that? Generally, the array of colors and movements used during these fight scenes is similar to dance or music on a page. Every move or color has a purpose and does nothing in excess. The series provides just the right amount of action to keep the story going.

The Characters

Despite how underdeveloped the characters in Space Riders are, Rangel Jr. still manages to express important themes through them. The main character, Capitan Peligro, is a stereotypical badass without a cause. However, through him, Rangel Jr. expresses Latin-American pride. Peligro is adamant that his crew calls him “Capitan” instead of “Captain” because of his background. He also demonstrates the strong familial ties prominent within the Latin community with how much he honors his father.

Mono, Capitan Peligro’s first mate, represents the religious people of the world. He was once a violent being who enjoyed hurting others, but when he found religion, he worked to improve himself and assist those around him. Despite him being a mandrill-humanoid, Mono portrays how much religion can humanize and lead people down an alternative path in bettering themselves. His interactions with Capitan Peligro, who is far from religious, is another positive as the series demonstrates how despite their different belief systems, the two can coexist and be comrades-in-arms.

Yara, the robot woman, showcases the complexity of a person and how appearances can be deceiving. When readers first meet Yara, she appears to be a by-the-books individual who prefers not to stray from protocol. However, she demonstrates the ability to acknowledge when rules need bending. Despite being a machine, Yara is expressive and cares for her crewmates as well as other life around her. Her caring nature makes her one of the most human characters within the series.

If you would like to purchase copies of Space Riders volumes 1 and 2, visit Amazon.