In Jerel Dye’s minicomic, From the Clouds, towering space aliens arrive on Earth and stomp around, offering gifts that are “like technology but more like a wisdom.” The gifts elevate people to a higher level of consciousness as they discard their animal identities. Some people doubt the benevolence of the invasion and fight back with tanks, trucks, and ships.
The story’s narrator is one of the converted or, possibly, the collected converted (the story is told in first-person plural). The narrator describes the situation as if the aliens are like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey – they act as the crucial link to the next step in our evolution as a species. What that next step is remains unclear. The aliens just sort of take over, lounging on top of our highways.
There is nothing that suggests the narrator is unreliable. But why should we trust him, her, or them? Why don’t we suspect the aliens are sinister? Why don’t we question the legitimacy of their “gifts” the way those doubting military tanks do? We accept it all because these aliens are awfully cute. And loveable.
The narrator in From the Clouds emphasizes early on that these aliens aren’t like those other aliens. They aren’t slimy squid monsters; they’re cute marshmallow guys with smiles on their faces. It’s the distrustful, fearful doubters who are the monsters. After fighting a losing battle, their salvation lies only in joining the believers.
The concept that space aliens are on a mission to bring humans to a higher level of consciousness is not new. Really, any religion’s mythology commonly contains a supernatural being that helps the humans along. But space alien religions are usually greeted with a special amount of skepticism.
Any religion that is not yours can be strange; you wonder how they can believe this weird story so profoundly. At worst, its beliefs seem so foreign that its followers are dehumanized. So you are enlightened, they are heathens. The From the Clouds narrator is full of conviction, righteous proclamations, and faith in the aliens.
The round clouds, the bright colors, the cute aliens, all of these things make the case to us, as readers, that this is the real story. That there is hope for humanity. That the answers lie in the pretty blue bubbles that the aliens vomit out just for us. The resistance doesn’t have the benefit of Jerel Dye’s artwork to rely on. Unlike us, they see the invaders as swindlers, their followers fools, and so they fight back as hard as they can. But it’s just not their story.