Bestselling comic writer G Willow Wilson’s classic series Air returns to print courtesy of Dark Horse’s Berger Books imprint this month. Acrophobic flight attendant Blythe has just fallen for a mysterious traveller—who may or may not be a terrorist—and she’s about to embark on the strangest journey of her life. Searching for him, Blythe will crash-land into a web of technological conspiracies, dark politics and secret organizations. When she learns that she is the only person able to control flight and reality, with science so advanced it might be magic, she’ll have to break the rules of time and space for answers. But will she reach new heights…or free-fall?
Before she introduced the fan-favourite Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel for Marvel and became a comics superstar, G Willow Wilson cut her teeth in comics at DC’s Vertigo imprint. Her first ongoing series was Air which quickly garnered her acclaim, particularly from fellow comic creators including Neil Gaiman and Gail Simone. Obviously, Wilson is now a household name who has a proven track record with hits like Ms. Marvel and Invisible Kingdom under her belt. But it was clear from Air that she was a force to be reckoned with.
Before it gets into the meat of the story, Wilson does a terrific job presenting the state of paranoia of post 9/11 airports and flights. As an American Muslim, Wilson has been subject to her fair share of profiling at airports based on her combination of religion and nationality which continues to this day. She brings her personal experience to the forefront in Air, with Blyth’s first encounter of the enigmatic Zayn taking place at the passport check before the boarding gate where she can’t put her finger on why she finds him suspicious. Her colleague suggests she’s ethnic profiling, but she insists it’s because she thinks she’s seen him before. It also doesn’t help that Zayn gives himself many different names from locations around the world whilst having vaguely ethnic features that makes identifying his origins difficult.
Beyond this exploration, the real joy from the series comes from the fish out of water situation Blythe finds herself in. It’s already crazy to think of a flight attendant who is afraid of heights, but the sheer rabbit hole she falls into which calls into question religion, personal beliefs and the rules of reality itself is utterly mesmerising.
Artist M.K. Perker equally carries his weight with plenty of memorable moments and proves to be a dab hand when it comes to shifting between tones. The opening sequence where Blyth and Zayn are plummeting out of a plane towards the sea which segues into a flashback set at an airport is a particularly well executed.
Air is thoroughly fun comic that touches on many interesting themes in a clever way. Now is a perfect opportunity to discover or rediscover this classic series.
Air Volume 1 is out now from Berger Books (9781506731711, p/b, £18.99)
Want regular updates and weekly reviews on the latest in graphic novels and manga? Follow us on Twitter @turnaroundcomix.