Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka has just come back to New York after spending several years in Nigeria. Not that the choice was her own, as she had to get a potential victim of genocide out of the country. A floral genocide, specifically. If that sounds strange, then you should know that “Laguardia” takes place in the future where aliens have made their way to Earth and the planet has several interplanetary travel hubs. Of which the titular New York airport is one. Future may have left her old life and a bewildered fiancee behind, but she has support here in the form of her grandmother who is an attorney specializing in immigrant rights -- both human and alien. Which is good because Future is also several months pregnant. With a kid who might be a human/floral hybrid.
“Laguardia” may take place in the future, yet it’s very much about the now. Writer Nnedi Okorafor dives right into the hot-button issues of racism and immigration with a sci-fi sheen that helps the messaging go down that much smoother. She’s also created an interesting world with its own issues with a memorable cast that tries to work through them. Said world is also marvelously realized through Tana Ford’s art. It’s teeming with life and imaginative alien designs that manage to be just as expressive as their human characters. Whether they’re emoting through tentacles, leaves, or bio-gelatin.
What holds this miniseries back from reaching its full potential is its lack of a plot to drive the action. Future’s circumstances provide the opening hook, but they fade in and out of primacy between then and the finale. That leaves an assemblage of subplots to vie for the reader’s attention, with none of them really breaking through. The end result feels like less than the sum of its parts: A well-intentioned plea for tolerance and understanding that never quite stops feeling like it’s preaching at the reader. Still, the world and characters are interesting enough that I’d buy another ticket if “Laguardia” makes another stopover in the future.
(Which seems more likely after it won the Eisner award for “Best Limited Series” the other night.)