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Comic Book / Caliban

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"Oh, the horror and terror and clawing insanity of knowing you're alone: You can run... but eventually you'll blunder into me. No warm bodies to reach out to... your own voice, begging you to quit the fight... I'm one of the things from out in the dark."
"Karien", to Nomi

Caliban is a seven-issue comic book series from Avatar Press, written by Garth Ennis with art by Facundo Percio.

A few generations into the future, humanity has invented ships that allow them to explore the universe via hyperspace, although they have yet to find another accessible, habitable planet or any other forms of sentient life. What they have found is an unimaginable bounty of resources, which are shipped back to Earth.

The Caliban is a mining exploration vessel, on a mission to deliver a group of miners in sleep pods to a distant settlement. It suddenly runs into the impossible when it physically hits another ship floating in hyperspace. When they drop back into real space, the two ships end up fused together, which kills the miners and most of the ship's crew. Exploring the other ship soon reveals that it's actual living proof of alien life in the universe, and it isn't empty.

This comic has examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Nomi writes in issue #1 that her great-grandmother was alive during the Space Race, which means Caliban can't be set too much later than the mid-21st century.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Sanchita Malik could be from pretty much anywhere. Her name suggest her to be of Latin American and Eastern origin.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sanchita survives just long enough to guarantee the alien consciousness' death in the explosion of the Caliban, which also takes out the only evidence humanity's yet found of alien life in the universe. Nomi is the only survivor, set adrift in cryogenic sleep, with a distress beacon. From what San said, it's only a matter of time until someone rescues her. In addition, San's sacrifice has saved the human race.
  • Crapsack World: Earth is described by Nomi as "a tumor breathing through a smokestack"; humanity has effectively infinite resources but can't yet expand beyond Earth due to a lack of useful habitats.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Canny is standing in a passageway when it's bisected by the alien ship, and ends up with half his body occupying the same space as the ship's bulkhead. He lives just long enough to die with Malik holding his hand.
    • Pierce is chosen for the alien's experiment to see how much a human body can take. When she's found at the end of issue #3, most of the bones in her body are broken but she's still alive.
    • Another guy gets a welding torch snatched away from him and shoved down his throat when the crew try to ambush Karien.
  • Ironic Echo: During her final fight with Karien, Sanchita lands a hit on him that mimics how he killed his first human victim: throwing him through a hatch into the aliens' "storage room," then landing on him with both feet.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Most of the crew thinks Nomi is involved with Malik. Malik is a lesbian and interested in Nomi, who had no idea. By the end, it's unclear whether Malik's feelings are reciprocated.
  • Shout-Out: Since this is a fairly straightforward homage to space-horror movies of the 90s and 2000s, there are a few nods throughout. It's mentioned that some people think hyperspace might just be Hell, and Nomi's last name is Gallo.
  • Tele-Frag: Several of the Caliban's support staff die instantly upon encountering the alien vessel, as both ships are occupying the same area when they drop out of hyperspace. One is cut in half and expires shortly thereafter; at least two more are only identifiable by the pieces of them that didn't end up merged with an alien bulkhead.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Malik injects herself with more of the alien serum than the human body can handle, then lures the body-snatching alien to take her over after she's ejected Nomi in an escape pod - essentially leaving the alien nothing more than Malik's dying body to inhabit, since it's already killed everyone else.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Well, everyone except Nomi dies in the end. The more capable and action-oriented Malik and Pierce are among the casualties.