Why it matters is because The Universe VS series seems operate within a constantly evolving genre as it moves along. It's a quality I can definitely appreciate in a book.
The first short story in The Universe VS series takes an outside-looking-in approach to story telling. Instead of focusing on any main character heroes, it follows the entire universe in their battle to defeat a single enemy, Osiriz, whom they call The Beast of Harmala. Osiriz is a man from a planet that was destroyed by a black hole without warning and who suspects the Federation, a united universe alliance of planetary nations responsible for universe legislation and military policing, is responsible.
When you are the sole survivor of your kind in the universe, the common consensus might be that you should give up and die, but Osiriz does exactly the opposite. Instead, the newly nurtured hater of all life doubles down and takes on all intelligent universe inhabitants. He just might be the kind of enemy that's motivated enough to do it.
This story is totally without dialogue, it's very short and relies solely on the quick action between the navies of The Federation and The Beast to keep your mind occupied with it.
Pirates of the Multiverse
This story (number two in order) picks up just a couple of years down the road. The Federation, finally set in their scientific minds that a multiverse does in fact exist, has developed a technology to finally investigate. Clearly, like all things involving moving information from one nuclear plane to another, there is a great deal of danger. The team could parish; the two universes could eternally be open to one another, creating any number of problems, specifically if the second universe is particularly dangerous; or maybe something could get through the portal that might be dangerous.
In Pirates of the Multiverse, the latter is exactly what happens. During the entry from one plane to the next, as the federation presents themselves to the unknown universe, so too does a space pirate ship make itself known to our own. Perhaps that wouldn't be an issue if we were technologically in line, or had an easy way to communicate, but that wouldn't make much of a story either, would it? This book quickly turns into a tale of multiverse diplomacy.
Exploring the Multiverse
Beyond the discovery of the multiverse and the formation of the multiverse empire, the next step quickly becomes obvious: if we suddenly know that there is a multiverse, is it something we should further investigate?
In the next short story in the series, Exploringthe Multiverse, our heroes and scientists are determined to find out what's out there. When an entity—one not so mortal—stumbles across them and promoting himself as something of a god, there is unrest about what exactly it is that he might be and, especially, what his intentions might be.
The being facetiously attempts to gain a friendly relationship with the multiverse leaders for his own gain. The attempt leads to an immense war of ten times greater proportions than that with The Beast of Harmala. It becomes a battle against robots which the two new multiverse-traveling universe nations can't possibly win.
Rise of Lord Vadik
Rise of Lord Vadik takes a quick turn from the normal Sci-Fi shenanigans. Suddenly, in a very Ancient Aliens-esque flip-flop, the story becomes a tale of gods and demi-gods. The hero from the previous tale rises as a dark emperor of the multiverse and, somewhere along the line, the story picks up an Anakin vs. Luke Skywalker family spat.
At this point in the story, everything seems a bit off the cuff. There are constant failed attempts by leaders to oust the dark emperor via assassination. Time travel is discussed and an entire people are on the verge of annihilation. It all stems from our new hero, a demi-god and son of the dark emperor, making a decision to oblige the rebel faction in their coup d'état, thus taking the reigns of government for himself.
These combined works by Robert Howle are hard to rate. It isn't a simple yay or nay, because the story is there and it has perfect potential to explode into something big. I suppose the issue, then, is that, for me, it didn't. The writing had the bones for structure, which drew up a concept and an overall story, but the meat and the guts were skimpy and the dialogue was atrocious. I found that the story rambled on with repetitive re-mentioning of established ideas, but when it came to detail and the authors job of transporting me to his world, it was an utter fail. Like I said before, it's a skeleton book series—quick to read and makes its points, but I never hung onto its words.
Still, in the void, there glimmers a shimmering spectacle of hope. Deep down, the story is a gem. The entire time as I was reading, I kept thinking, "This feels like a quick comic proposal". I didn't immediately know when I started reading this work what I would quickly find out when I researched Howle a little. He's an artist. Check it out.
That fact alone left me speechless, because I knew immediately that Howle had the potential to bring his work to life in one of my favorite mediums on the planet: within the arena of Sci-Fi comics. He's an amazing artist holding a written diagram in which to base his comic story. Who could ask for more? This sounds like a recipe for success if you ask me; but as the work stands, my opinion, firmly, is that it was underwhelming at best.
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