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How much weight does a secret have when it’s not your own? How does leadership shape the bearer? These are the questions with which Home: Volume One is concerned.
The story follows two men surnamed Thoreau—Patrick and Emmanuel—both captaining different spaceships and struggling with isolation: one forced upon Patrick, and one chosen by Emmanuel.
It’s in this parallel isolation that we see how each man carries or rejects their duties as captain and the secrets that come with the position.
After the tragic and unexplained death of the former captain, Patrick finds himself the sole inhabitant of a giant spaceship—Arc 29—capable of supporting thousands of lives, his only companions a giant wolf and a complicated robot. There are secrets to explore and answers to find aboard the ship, but Patrick is reluctant to do so, perhaps still overwhelmed by the untimely loss of the captain, he keeps the answers at arm’s length.
Emmanuel, by contrast, holds all the secrets close to his chest, lets them eat away at his vitality as he searches for the answer to a problem that, it seems, he has never shared with those closest to him. (And the larger secret may not even be of his own making.) The results are catastrophic for him personally but it’s a disaster he cannot avoid if he is to fulfill his obligations as a leader.
The crushing sense of duty Emmanuel carries is in stark contrast to the breezy life Patrick experiences in the wake of trauma—spent mostly playing golf collecting crystals on low gravity romps, and pointedly ignoring his duties as captain. Not that Patrick doesn’t face his own demons: the shadow of the former captain looms large over the ship and Patrick struggles to break free.
Patrick’s story never delivers on its initial mystery—that remains, one assumes, for future installments—and as a consequence the pace lags. But in that slowness the characters and the ship they inhabit have space to reveal themselves.
It’s an ambitious work that sometimes falls short of its goals, but those are forgivable flaws. Beautifully rendered and thoughtfully paced, the stories tie together nicely in unexpected and fulfilling ways, leaving the reader wanting to know more about the world even if there is an exasperated urge to step on the gas a little.
Home: Volume One is written and illustrated by the Michaud Brothers. It is available for purchase on their website.