Review: Harsh Prospect by Will Tempest

by Benjamin Williams
8th April, 2024
3 minutes

If you're looking for some dystopian near-future sci-fi with tons of red viscous goo, then Will Tempest's Harsh Prospect might be what you need. And really, why would you not want some red viscous goo in your life? It's not like it's on our planet.

Harsh Prospect by Will Tempest

Harsh Prospect follows the colony of New Earth Exploration as it faces failure. There is a lot of tension between the company and the colonists as they try to establish themselves on a hostile planet. The colony is currently facing a risk of starvation, mutiny, or giving up altogether. August, a colony geologist, sets out to find habitable land in the tundra but ends up making a strange and dangerous discovery - some of that wonderful red goo that you see on the cover.

Starting with the art, which, although is the usual around here, is also quite fitting as there are pages and pages where the art is all that's used to tell the story. You're nearly 20 pages in before you even get to any text as you just absorb this new world and its surroundings.

Harsh Prospect preview one

Each panel throughout is a work of art, and you can't help but admire the skilled craftsmanship that went into creating such a visually stunning piece. There are even a few full-page spreads that would make beautiful prints to hang on your wall.

Tempest's appreciation for the comic's art is evident in the way they savour each panel's smooth transition. The story flows like a symphony, building up to the fate of the colony. While the narrative and art evoke a sense of desolation, there is an underlying beauty in the decay.

The storytelling is characterised by a masterful use of pacing, allowing the narrative to unfold at a natural and organic pace. The approach is nuanced and deliberate, drawing the audience in with a slow burn that builds to a powerful and emotionally resonant climax.

Harsh Prospect preview two

This story is a thought-provoking one, for it introduces more questions than it provides answers. And I didn't finish this wanting the answers. Instead, I just feel compelled to contemplate the far-reaching consequences of a world in decline, the potential significance of the goo, and what the colony will do. It feels like that was the aim and it did a great job of it.

The lettering is all handwritten and is possibly the only part I'd say that could be improved. And that's not to say it's bad - it's legible and has a nice, authentic indie comic feel to it. But there is an odd occasion where it could be a little clearer. A bit of a polish-up is all it needs.

Harsh Prospect preview three

Overall, Harsh Prospect is a gorgeous but bleak journey that, at times, leaves the stunning artwork to do the heavy lifting. It's a slow burn that might not be to everyone's tastes, but once you get your teeth into it, there's no letting go. It's a hauntingly beautiful sci-fi that leaves parts out for you to ponder on your own. It's like being invited to contemplate the human condition, survival, and the unexpected forces that we might come across in the future.

Sometimes, the most intriguing stories are the ones that are left untold or implied. Such as with Harsh Prospect.

Rating: 4.5/5

If you want to buy Harsh Prospect, you can do so over at Will's website. It's £30, and for that, you're getting one hell of a stunning 268-page hardback. Completely worth it, in my opinion.

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