It is always nice when a classical story gets a futuristic update with a twist. Port of Earth, written by Zack Kaplan and illustrated by Andrea Mutti, attempts to do just that but rather than aliens coming to attack Earth they are here for business and only business. As a result, this opens up a variety of new options and stories to be told as humanity and aliens interact with each other.
The comic establishes the how and why the aliens came to earth. While traveling across the galaxy these aliens learned that the earth was made up of water. Given that their ships use water as a fuel they decided to land and attempt to work out a business deal to establish a refueling station for their ships. Once this deal was worked out a port was built where aliens could land their ships to refuel if they followed 3 simple rules. One, they could only enter the earth in designated areas, two, they could not leave the port, and three, they would have no human interactions. Given these rules it would only be a matter before they were broken. That happened as several aliens decided to go onto the mainland of California where they killed 62 people and caused a billion dollars of damage before they were killed. Upon hearing this the Alien Consortium, who helped to establish the port, was displeased with earth and required them to create the ESA. The ESA (Earth Security Agency) was formed to protect humans from aliens and aliens from humans and to contain and prevent incidents from occurring. With this established we begin to see how aliens arriving on Earth has influenced them by improving their technology. At the same time, it has also created a negative effect as people have developed a bias towards aliens, due to the number that have killed humans. In particular we see it with 2 ESA Agents McIntyre and Rice who have made negative comments about aliens despite their job to protect them. This is put to the test as they discover, while on the job, an illegal alien and are pursuing it. Earth is meeting with the Alien Consortium to explain that they have the alien escape port problem under control. Thus, this comic creates an interesting dynamic as to how the people of earth will juggle the alien escape port problem with their own bias to convince the Alien Consortium that they can handle their problems.
While the comic establishes the background and the struggle the Earth faces not one alien is revealed throughout the comic. Considering that they are an instrumental component to this comic it is very odd that not one of them makes an appearance to reveal what they look like. Without this reveal it feels as if the comic is hoping to build suspense and entice a reader to stay with it for several more issues to see these aliens. Furthermore, the comic fails to introduce any main leaders of Earth who will be attempting to juggling and deal with the Alien Consortium, which seems like it would be fitting to have in a first issue of a comic. Finally, the comic barely established ESA Agents McIntyre and Rice by only revealing that they are partly biased against aliens. Beyond that nothing is explained about them, which is alarming considering that they are the main characters of the series and the first responders to the next crisis that Earth will be dealing with.
Port of Earth attempts to tell a new alien story. One where aliens are looking for a business deal and not a war. While that has been achieved and expands what can be done with aliens, it is not to say the comic is without flaws. In particular, the comic reads as a prequel and not a first issue as it establishes the background and briefly introduces the main characters. By doing this the comic is hard to judge as it is a great concept and clearly establishes the necessary background information, but fails to properly introduce and develop the main characters for readers to relate to.