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A Distant Soil: The Gathering by Colleen…

A Distant Soil: The Gathering (2001)

by Colleen Doran

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: A Distant Soil (Vol.2 1-12)

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186493,689 (3.82)6



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I found the different storylines to be hard to follow.
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
Summary: Liana and her older brother Jason have been institutionalized for years, not to protect them from themselves, but so that their psychic powers can be studied. They manage to break out, but Liana's powers are not entirely under her control, which makes her dangerous even to those trying to help her. Also dangerous is the fact that the siblings are being hunted not only by the scientists, but also by the Ovanan, an alien race to which Liana and Jason's father belonged. The Ovanan rely on an Avatar, a being who can tap into the minds of everyone in their civilization and harness their mental energy as a weapon. Liana is an Avatar, so the current Avatar's faction is trying to eliminate her as a threat. But there are deeper political currents within the Ovanan than anyone realizes, and they could put not only the young people's lives, but also the Earth itself, in jeopardy.

Review: Colleen Doran started A Distant Soil when she was a teenager, and it kind of shows. There are a lot of elements crammed together here - psychic powers and street punks and aliens and dystopian collectives and secret resistance groups and a god who doesn't want to be god anymore and a cop with a heart of gold and alien expats and an Arthurian knight who gets pulled into modern times but only speaks Welsh and all sorts of things. And all of these things are so disparate that the feel like they were included because they're cool, but for me they never really gelled into anything cohesive. Maybe it gets better in later volumes, but this one didn't grab my interest enough to make me want to stick around and find out.

The confusingness of all of the various elements really wasn't helped by the artwork. It is exceptionally detailed, and each individual panel on its own would be exquisite, but put all together there is just SO MUCH going on all the time that it's overwhelming and hard to visually track what you're supposed to be looking at. Also hard to follow are the characters. I don't know if it's the 80s haircuts or what (and hoo boy are these some fantastically feathered 80s haircuts), but all of the characters looked alike to me, and there's a lot of characters, so I had a really hard time following who was doing what and why. It didn't help that most of the aliens (and some of the humans) are drawn as exceptionally androgynous - between the feathered hair and the overly-developed pectoral muscles that look like breasts when you put them in a bodysuit, I had a really hard time distinguishing the gender of a lot of the characters for most of the book, which led to even more confusion - for example, when a character was talking about something another character did using the "he" pronoun to refer to someone I'd thought was female. I also am still not entirely clear on how old Liana is supposed to be; sometimes she looked 12 and sometimes she looked 18, and she could be acting young because she is young, or because she's scarred from being institutionalized and experimented on. The story never made it clear, and the artwork didn't help.

So, overall, too much going on with not enough of it making sense, and just plain not my cup of tea. Sometimes the random graphic novels I grab off the shelves at the library turn out to be awesome, and… sometimes not. 2 out of 5 stars.

(The hairstyles are hilariously fabulous, though.)

Recommendation: Eh. There are people whose opinions I respect who love it (Neil Gaiman writes the intro, for heaven's sake) but I will not be joining their ranks. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Jun 2, 2014 |
This is a restored and remastered definitive edition of this classic graphic novel. Self-published in 1987 and re-issued by Image Comics in 1997; this new edition even has a digitized font made up from Duran's hand lettering in the original editions. This is my first time reading the book so I'm unable to compare the editions but will give my opinion on the story itself. Colleen first started this comic when she was a teenager herself and part of its charm comes from that because an accomplished writer would just never put so many different elements together in one book expecting it to work. But work it does, in a big way! At first I was a little stunned with everything that was going on; it's so out there! but then I just got sucked in and kept turning the pages. There are a lot of characters introduced in this first book which can often be a problem but each one looks different and has such a distinct character that I took them all in very easily and always knew who was who. This is major space opera, something I haven't read in a very long time, and is definitely a product of its time; however, I found it extremely addictive and the art is stunningly beautiful. One thing about the art that did jar me though was just how eighties it was; you can't get around the fact you are reading something written/drawn a long time ago. A lot of men look like they belong in the group Platinum Blonde. The women are either Madonna clones or preppy with short-short hair cuts. The Japanese manga art of making the men look like girls is employed on a few of the alien men and especially the main character who jarringly looks like a beautiful woman except when his shirt is undone. He creeps me out actually. It's the eighties look that stopped me from enjoying this a full 5 stars; the plot really grabbed me but just not enough to get past its dated look, earth-side. ( )
  ElizaJane | Aug 30, 2013 |
The origins of Colleen Doran's epic graphic novel first began when she was twelve. When we're twelve, that voice telling us that we shouldn't mix in governmental kidnapping plots with alien heritages and psychically linked siblings, political dealings of other worlds, Arthurian legend, a touch of an after school special and a slight dash of a Melrose Place designer-sabotage B-plot together to make an epic fantasy story. No, when we get older, that voice tells us such a mixture will just go really wrong really fast.

Thank goodness Colleen plowed onward without that voice. As muddled as all of that sounds, A Distant Earth manages to take all of these various plots and weave them into Liana and Jason's story. The Gathering really offers a background into their story, beginning with breaking Liana out of a mental hospital where she's been held captive most of her life. As Jason and Liana believe they're escaping the worst of things, they discover that their problems are just beginning when it's revealed that they're half alien and key to ending a political struggle in which they'll quickly become pawns. ( )
1 vote stephmo | May 3, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Colleen Doranprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gaiman, NeilIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Mom and Dad
First words
Good morning Liana, you have a visitor.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Canonical DDC/MDS

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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
A young girl, institutionalized since childhood, possesses extraordinary powers, inherited from her alien father. Her abilities make her the most powerful psionic in the universe!

Sought by rival factions of the government of a faraway world, she and her brother are unwittingly embroiled in a deadly power struggle.

A young girl's soul is the battleground for champions from alien worlds, the streets of Earth, and other dimensions, in a tale which combines science fiction, fantasy and romance in a unique graphic novel saga!
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Liana finds out that she is an Avatar (or psychic conduit), but since the corrupt government already has an Avatar whose powers they wish to use, Liana's life is imperiled.

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