Subjectivity in Symbols and Characters in The Seeds 2

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ann Nocenti and David Aja’s Seeds is, on the surface, about a race of aliens that comes to earth to document, or possibly expedite, the extinction of the human race. But even from the end of the first issue, this tidy sci fi premise has already been upset: one of these aliens has feelings for a human woman. Those are clearly defined roles for the humans and the aliens, right? And even that little twist falls into the dramatically convenient theme of love blossoming on the battlefield. Issue 2 of Seeds more thoroughly explores the difference between what is expected of an actor and how they actually act.

Aja and Nocenti actually start the issue working the visual equivalent of this thematic idea.

Okay, so obviously, we’re looking at Seeds‘ favorite recurring shape here – the hexagon. In the first row of panels, the shapes make up the shell of a lonely tortoise making his way through the desert. The hard, angular hexagons are replaced by the loose hexes of the six-pack rings, and the symbol has been transferred from a living creature to the waste product that’s harming him. Then, as the tortoise drags the trash off the panel, there’s one last hexagon cracked into the ground beneath him. The symbol is ubiquitous – from life to trash to the earth itself. Nocenti and Aja are priming the reader to read one image, one concept, one character, as multiple things simultaneously.

And the creative team is actually working on a more subtle, foundational level than that. This page is essentially a palindrome, folding over that center panel of the birds on the tree branch. The first three panels start close and zoom out; starting the reader with an abstraction of the subject and gradually bringing it into full view by the third panel. The bottom row is the opposite (starting with the full, and ending with the subject obscured), but the methods of hiding the subject are different. The first row manipulates the perspective of Aja’s “camera” while the bottom row simply allows of the passage of time and for the tortoise to wander out of the panel. Effectively, both time and space are playing the same role on this page.

That leaves the issue in an interesting position going forward from its first page. We already know that no one thing is only one thing. So when we meet an alien turning on his compatriots in the name of love, a reporter tempted to fabricate the truth, or a hog farmer wrestling with whether or not to slaughter his prized pig, we are ready and able to accept that these characters contain multitudes.

Which leaves me asking question about one thing in particular: is this really the end of the human race? Lola poses the same question and Race can only respond with his experience.

But the end of the world, as Lola describes it, is weather, earthquakes, war, pollution. No single dramatic thing, just the sum of all those everyday terrible things over time. So… is that the end of life or just… y’know, life? This row where Race and Lola kiss is incredible, ending in a total black-out panel. Is this really the end? Or are we just mistaking the silhouettes of two lovers embracing for the end of the world?

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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