Hieroglyph was a four issue limited series by Ricardo Delgado (Age of Reptiles) back in ‘99-‘00, and while it received great reviews and critical acclaim I always felt it was a little ignored at the time. The series followed a human explorer sent to catalog a distant world thought bereft of life, so the majority of the comic is silent as the main character is isolated from any other sentient contact. The explorer is surprised to find signs of ancient civilizations in the form of monumental ruins and temples and he soon also discovers new life, and with that discovery comes danger and the threat of planet wide genocide.
If you’re familiar with Delgado’s art then you won’t be surprised by the beautiful storytelling with rich details and a flowing visual narrative. Delgado’s sense of design and the influence he draws from painter David Roberts (as detailed in the back of the first issue) combine to create huge monolithic ruins and skeletal remains that create a sense of scale and wonder that very few other creators in this medium can capture. Large chunks of each issue are told with little to no dialogue and Delgado lets your imagination run wild with hints of what types of creatures and aliens could possibly fill these landscapes. Delgado manages to combine the most exciting elements of archaeology and science fiction together in a very subtle way while also utilizing a very human context for the entire process.
Now for the bad news. There is no collected edition of this available, and finding the entire series can be kind of tricky. I’ve often managed to find three out of four issues for people and then they have to go on an archaeological dig of their own to have any success of completing the run. You really shouldn’t have to spend a ton of money on them because most retailers don’t even really know what they have if they are selling it. Often you can find them in discount bins and if that’s the case then it’s an even better find. I would still say spending at least $12-15 for the set is a great deal, and even $20 would be well worth the package. The art alone makes it worthwhile, just keep in mind it’s a fairly fast read. Hopefully Dark Horse or another publisher can get some interest going in a new TPB because I wish I could recommend this series to all my customers.