By Byron Preiss & Stephen Fabian (Byron Preiss Visual Publications Inc/Pyramid Books)

Byron Preiss’s publishing outfit was responsible for some pretty impressive steps in the development of the comic strip medium over the years. He used major talent, advocated the book over the periodical and was determined to always expand the fan-base rather than consolidate in a declining marketplace. By taking such risks he didn’t always hit his mark, but the results were always interesting and worthy of the readers time and money.

In this little gem, which boldly proclaims itself to be “in the Star Trek Tradition!”, he wrote an above average, if derivative, science fiction odyssey of First Contact that nonetheless still resonates today. His secret weapon was the hiring of pulp illustrator Stephen Fabian, whose pointillist artwork had been seen in Marvel’s black and white magazine line as well as increasingly in the anthology periodicals of the day.

Using a stippling technique reminiscent of SF classicists Virgil Finlay and Hannes Bok, the self-taught Fabian has since made a glittering career for himself (just Google him and see for yourself) and in this tale of a team of explorers and the startling metamorphosis that overtakes one of them shows that his sequential narrative and design skills are as impressive as his illustrative ability. With comic-book legend Marie Severin as colourist, this quaintly dated tale is still a great read and well worth seeking out if histrionic superheroes and moody misanthropes are beginning to pall your palate.

™ & © 1976 Byron Preiss Visual Publications Inc. All Rights Reserved.