The last strip! Enjoy!



And Happy New Years!

Annnnnnd….. link to the ONE WAY KICKSTARTER! Let’s get this thing printed! Thank you all who have pledged so far! 🙂


12/31/14 – The End

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  1. This is a melancholy way to end the year, not to mention the story. I sense a lot of Survivor’s Guilt in her future.

    Thanks for the ride, Chris! Enjoyed it and looking forward to the next work!

  2. Huh! So that’s the ending.

    Well, it was an interesting character study, but I can’t say I found the ending to be satisfactory. I can handle not knowing the fate of the crew, because we’re following a character who also does not know, and that lack of knowledge is as critical to her as it is to us. But to also not see what happens when Orion gets back to Earth, or how this significant event has affected her… that’s a bit of a let-down.

    I’d be interested in a breakdown of what you meant to examine with this story (if anything), and an analysis of whether or not you felt it worked out as you intended. From this end, it felt kinda abruptly anti-climactic, as if you changed your mind about (or never decided) what would happen at the end of their journey. Or as if, perhaps, you had tired of these characters and wished to wrap it up quickly so that you can move on.

    Nevertheless, I’m excited to see what you do next!

  3. Well that was a colossal waste of time. Feels like the entire run of this strip could have been condensed into a single episode of The Outer Limits.

    Yes, I’m annoyed.

    • Personally it reminded me of some of the best SF short stories from the 1970’s and 80’s where resolution wasn’t required just the message was. But to each their own.

    • Speaking for me, i liked a lot to read a story that that was written differently than the usual script, for a change. I’ve seen too many movies and read too many novels and comics with the same predictable development. Bravo to Baldwin for daring to do something different.

    • Was the journey not worth it?

    • I feel the same way, Clay. Very annoyed and disappointed.

  4. She didn’t get back to Earth. She’s more competent then she seems, and you notice it goes into a tumble before the engine cutting out and it just disappears. “Vanishes into a flash of nothingness”

    My guess is she destroyed the ship.

    • I think that’s just intended to be a “zoom out” type ending, and not the ship itself literally spinning out of existence.

    • I think that is just the ship being turned back toward earth combined with a zoom-out. It’s a big leap from what is shown to Orion blowing up the ship. If that is what happened then she screwed over the human race and made a mockery of the choice the others made in picking her.

    • Forgot to reply to this. Yes, what Stewart and GnarlyDoug said. It’s a fade out, starting her long journey, not an explosion blinking out that solar system. 🙂

  5. Chris has set up a Schrodinger’s Cat box for us. Whether Orion lives depends on the whims of the aliens and Earth agencies. Whether the rest of the crew lives depends on the whims of the aliens. They may be doomed by others’ decisions, or find ways to change fate. Everyone is both dead and alive at the same time. Chris doesn’t have to tell us what happens next. We can work it out ourselves and each resolution will be valid from the paths we’ve been shown. The comic was about the journey, not the destination.

  6. Awesome strip. Thanks.

  7. @Ben, well, I don’t want to go too much into detail. I do like it to speak for itself.

    But the main theme I started with was: what if you knew you were going to die. Something which comes out more in the story when you read it all at once, and you see the shifts in personalities after the mid-way point. (For instance, Gordon was a complete selfish bastard the first half).

    if it were an actual short story, i would have written it and edited and edited and edited it until it was as tight as a drum. But I enjoyed just taking the concepts and noodling with them.

    I’m pleased with how it came out. And am glad so many of you enjoyed it! 🙂

    • In light of that theme (how would a cast of characters react to the news of their imminent death) I think it’s a little better story, but still… I found the conclusion unsatisfying, and the pacing in the final Act felt rushed. I think it would be less noticeable if Spacetrawler hadn’t been so excellent.

      Nevertheless, there’s a whole new horizon to look towards now. I’m hyped to start another Baldwin adventure!

  8. Thanks for the short story Baldwin. It was a nice reversal on the standard First Contact narrative.

  9. Hm. An interesting idea, and a fascinating execution.

    I suppose the one thing that felt… off, to me, is that not one character reacted to the aliens with rage, or accusations. Not one person said “We killed one of our own to save your arrogant, indifferent lives! How *dare* you murder us just to make a point!”

    Not saying that would have been logical, or reasonable, but just to meekly accept whatever was dished out… Even if that was what they’d done all their lives, this was the end. And it just doesn’t seem entirely human that not one of them showed a single flash of anger.

    Actually, thinking about it, that was always something that bothered me about classic sci-fi – it seemed the authors were fascinated by a clever idea, and the characters had to behave in a certain way, had to be certain people, in order for the idea to work. Rather than the idea developing out of different characters.

    This all sounds rather negative, I know. On the other hand, there’s not many pieces of writing (let alone in webcomics) where one is challenged to think about real characters and how they might behave under extreme circumstances – because clichés and archetypes *always* behave as expected, and one never hopes for anything more.

    • This is my problem as well. Students of human nature should know; these people would go through the stages of grief, whatever that meant for them. Yet not one person tried a last minute gambit to try and fix things, nobody got overly emotional – we saw a statistically impossible amount of dry wit and calmness. I feel like Mr Baldwin wrote how he would react in this situation, several times over, rather than make distinct characters’ grief processes. No offence to him, he makes some of the most creative scifi I’ve ever read, but this did not feel “real” to me, highlighted most when I could not sympathise with the character(s) in the uncertain epilogue.

  10. Good story.
    I also think it would work as an episode of the classic Outer Limits, but I consider that a good thing. 🙂
    It’s not exactly the ending I expected, as I posted on the other page, but that’s not a complaint.
    The final several frames appear to me as though Baldwin is doing a comic frame version of the camera rotating it’s viewpoint on the receding ship, and that’s why the angle on the bridge and the distance from the ship gets increasingly larger until the ship is no longer visible. (Sure, it might be that tiny dot of light near the center of the last frame, but you just won’t know.)

  11. That sucked.

  12. Did not like it.

    I appreciate it – believe me, I truly do. I do compliment you for doing something different, and all the artistic reasons for trying something that does not follow a specific pattern or trope. Also, to ignore or denigrate the obvious superlative craftsmanship and care that went into every panel from start to finish would be stupid, short-sighted and, well – just wrong. This was a beautifully rendered thing.

    It’s not to my taste, is all. I do like a happy ending or something that, even if it’s tragic, has an uplifting or illuminating message of some kind. This is kind of like the ending of The Sopranos where it just … ends. Nothing is really resolved because we don’t know what ultimately happens to, well, to anyone.

  13. “What if you knew you were going to die…” Um, Chris, I think I’ve got some bad news for you.

  14. @AndyW, I actually had written some earlier-draft scripts of them getting angry at the end. But they had just spent have the journey thinking they were going to die, and a quiet resigned feeling seemed to fit better.

    @M.A. (fingers in ears) lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala! 😉

  15. A tough story with a difficult ending. Most expect something more in the way of pizazz. Even though such things as that aren’t warranted here. No pizazz, not violent anger, no wrath of god type destruction by the unseen aliens. I like it for that quality, if only because it was so totally unexpected. And as for the fate of the “survivor” we have no more knowledge than what will happen to the rest of the crew. It is a dice role.

    There are no wrong answers here. Just disappointment for some. Not for me.

  16. I really like the no-frills ending. I’m just curious, Chris, how you decided who was going to live. Francisco’s sacrifice was well placed & was a great final hurrah for his character, and I don’t think anyone was going to vote Star because she’s a murderer, but further than that it’d have been a coin toss. Or two. Or a d4 toss. Whatever 😀

  17. I thought this was a terrible ending because there not even a shred of closure or anything for all we know the aliens blew up Earth. They could have all died and I would have loved this comic, but like the original Mass effect 3 ending it ruins everything.

  18. Like No Country for Old Men and far too many British movies it just ends and you have no idea what happens.

  19. One audience unit

    I kinda was expecting the next page to be the rest of the crew going “I guess you all voted for the one person that would actually believe that we’d be killed right?”

  20. What a poignant ending. It left me wondering in what condition Orion will be at the end of this next trip and how the people of Earth will react to the return of Orion.

    The story left me wanting more while at the same time ended the story on a strong finish.

    Well done.

  21. There are a lot of different ways you can go with a webcomic, as an artist you have to go where your muse compels you. It was a wholly unexpected “WTF was that?” ending relative to normal story arcs. It was analogous to the last episode of The Sopranos where the main reaction was a lot of people going “WTF?” and a few exclaiming “Genius!”.

    Having said this you’re not David Chase with a fistful of Emmy’s, you’re a webcomic creator with a few well received works behind you. The problem for you is that a lot of your fans are going to see this as a borderline betrayal of their time and emotional investment in your story, and may be more hesitant to engage your work in the future if they think the football is going to grabbed away at some point.

    As an aside I am curious about the Kickstarter to get “One Way” published. The huge majority of people potentially buying this will be people who have followed the comic. I daresay most of them are not going to want to re-visit what they perceive as an unsatisfying resolution and a truncated story arc.

    You’ve made a definitive stand for your art and your vision, but I think expecting a lot of fans to want to buy this particular series may be pressing the envelope a bit.

    Good luck with your future ventures.

  22. <besarraf
    January 1, 2015 at 1:56 am

    I thought this was a terrible ending because there not even a shred of closure or anything for all we know the aliens blew up Earth. They could have all died and I would have loved this comic, but like the original Mass effect 3 ending it ruins everything.

    You should watch the movie based on the book, “Colossus The Forbin Project” for downer endings. Also the book and movie “Planet of the Apes” from 1967. Those are downer endings. This one is ambiguous as an ending. Both brave and wonderfully executed.

  23. @Monkapotamus, here’s the thing. i wasn’t trying to be clever, artistic, anything. I was simply trying to tell a good story, and I ended it in what I thought the best (and well thought out) manner. From the beginning I’d said it was one year, and more like a short-story than an epic. So, I did my best, I’m proud of the work, and tried my best to let people know what it would be. I don’t see a lot more else I could do.

    Anna Galactic will be a comedy epic with a big finale, in case anyone is curious. Yontengu similarly (although Yontengu is light at times on the comedy).

    Your KS comment: well, sure. People who didn’t like the ending might not buy it. it might not succeed. but I don’t have expectations of my readers to buy it, or for them to do anything. I’d like to print it, true, but if the KS doesn’t make it I’ll be looking for POD options. And that’s okay.

    So, any general sentiment that i tried to screw my readers out of a good story, that i now expect them to cough up dough despite me being a bastard, that I feel like I’ve failed and ruined my career — not so much. I feel good about the project, and am happy that so many of you loved it, and I do wish ALL of you loved it but I can’t change that. And now, on to 2015. Awesomeness awaits! 🙂

  24. I’ve got to stop scrolling down when I hit this site.. seeing that last comic just made me mist up a little bit IRL… it makes me very, very sad to think of the old crew standing there, taking a final look at Orion before the door closes on their inevitable deaths…

    I need a unicorn chaser, stat! 🙁

  25. There is nothing inevitable about the death of the other characters. Once Orion has left as a message back to Earth, the aliens can then do whatever they want with the remaining crew. Including being nice to them and letting them out to meet the locals, or turning them into locals (we can rebuild you), or letting them live out their lives in a nice comfy isolated place, or whatever. Or killing them, or any number of other horrid things.

    The ending is one of the best bits about this strip for me. But then I’m british and we can handle ambiguous endings :-). It’s the entire strip that left me feeling a bit underwhelmed after Spacetrawler. But it’s always hard to follow great work. Just look at A Miracle Of Science (great strip) and the poor work that followed it (now on apparently indefinite hiatus).

  26. Or the aliens could have rigged up Orion’s ship to blow Earth…

  27. Oneway wrapup comment:

    So when it became clear rather early in the storyline that the characters chosen for this mission were probably carefully selected for a balance between how expendable they were vs how actually competent they would be I became much more invested in them than at the outset. As things got complicated, I really felt like there were so many avenues to develop their intricacies that were being left behind- but I also understood why only so much could happen in a year’s worth of comic.

    Overall, I am happy to have come along for the journey of One Way. Though I also felt a little dissapointed by the ending, I want to make it clear that I didn’t expect or really want a definitive or hand-holding ending that explains too much. No. The only real criticism that I have is that I was really hoping for some kind of small teaser that left us wondering in a more definitive way.

    What we got was exactly what promised. And I thank you Chris for keeping me engaged (been a fan since Bruno! I met you briefly at a tiny comic show in Washington years ago, and have loved your work since) and on my toes. But damn, I really wanted a twist teaser at the end. n.n;

  28. Sorry, can´t help it, but this story simply feels incomplete.

  29. After thinking about the ending for a few days I came to some conclusions about what Chris consciously or subconsciously intended. Here we have two technologically advanced races, one of them temporarily superior, each with the capability to destroy the other. They are equally self-righteous, arrogant, murderous, paranoid and fantastically dangerous. Reminds me of the darker days of the Cold War. I remember a project we did in the second grade that involved mapping all the designated fallout shelters in the neighborhood, just in case. It makes me suspect that evolution favors these traits and it’s possible that the earthlings and aliens have a common ancestor. Remember Larry Niven’s “Protector” ?

  30. I have no trouble at all with ambiguous endings as long as there is something to tie it all together; or rather, several things that could possibly be tied together.

    Two of my favorite movies of all time are 12 Monkeys, and American Beauty. Two stories which end on very ambiguous notes, which can be read any number of ways; yet most of them are extremely sad and depressing. I didn’t mind either of those at the least.. I am, after all, often accused of being a Nihilist. 🙂

    This feels.. a bit too abrupt and sloppy. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had a fairly ambiguous ending, but it was more of a subtle giving-way to the end as opposed to a leadfooted full-stop, abrupt enough to throw you 10 feet forward out of your seat. Instead of quiet contemplation, this ending leaves me in a state of “What the F**K was that!?”

    • I didn’t insult anyone, and I’m not happy that you have insulted me. What made you feel the need to do that? If there were a Report button on these postings, I would be reporting yours.

      Just to be clear, I am completely fine with your posting except for the final paragraph. You are entitled to your opinion, but Christopher has made it clear in the past that he likes it civil here in the comments.

  31. @Owen_Smith, apologies for letting that one get by me. I have deleted the offending part of the comment. And yes, please, people. Keep it civil. You can debate, but no insulting, please.

  32. Ahh, allright… apologies to Owen and Chris, I spend too much time on Fark and other very heated debate forums.. that you’re being insulted is the default assumption one comes to after a decade there.

    I’ll stay nice and civil here from now on.. apologies again, too much time on the Wild Wild Web.

  33. Meh. To sum up my objections, I can tolerate a limp, ambiguous, or inconclusive ending in a short story or short film. In a novel or a long film if there’s an honest literary reason for it I don’t mind it so much. In a comic that took basically a year to unfold, it leaves me with a feeling that I’ve wasted my time. It’s frustrating.

  34. Well, I liked it. Binge read it from start to finish for the past two days, and to my eye the ending was fine. My firest thought was “hard” science FTL, Awesome! Then it kind of dragged on and on before the turnover, the story felt “arbitrary” until the murder, and then it hit it’s stride until it finished well. It wasn’t until after they all realized they were gonna die that I realized that that boring beginning part was necessary to establish a character/relationship baseline for the characters to deviate from after their fate became inevitable.

    Great job, and I look forward to following your future works.

  35. I don’t know how those disappointed in the ending would like Greg Bear’s “The Forge of God”. It’s no spoiler to say the ending is just like this one. You’re told in the beginning the ending is inevitable, you’re reminded throughout the story, and in the end everyone dies as promised. You can’t say you weren’t warned and declare disappointment that it still happened. The whole point is how the characters deal with a death sentence and how they change, or don’t. It doesn’t matter that we don’t see the executions. Someone might live after all, but that’s not the point. Both stories are about the journey, not the final destination, and both are recommended reading, in my opinion.

  36. The only thing disappointing here is that I don’t get to know the absolute fate of the crew (those left behind and the one sent home). I can assume, based on the dialogue that the aliens will ensure that the spacecraft and its message get back to earth, but there’s nothing really to go off of as far as foreshadowing or past behavior to suggest the fate of those left behind. Especially considering they claim they are truly Alien with motives unlike humanities’.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the comic for what it is and thanks Mr. Baldwin for continuing to brighten my Monday Wednesday Friday with sci-fi goodness

    • Yep. Wondering about the alien message as well. Is it an exploding ship followed by an invasion force?

  37. I’ve been a reader from day 1, and would just like to say, I am content with the ending. I am sad to see it go, as I really liked the characters and interactions and such, but all things end and we always knew this was a short ride. I think that there COULD have been more going into detail about what happened, but I don’t think it would have ADDED anything. It takes some guts to end it without explicitly laying everything out, and I applaud you for going for it.

  38. Definitely not a waste of time, but it does feel kinda incomplete… So what about a kickstater for part two? 😉

  39. Methinks this is just a prologue for the next chapter that is going to be HUGE. Think about it: there is the background, the characters, a mystery, everything. Baldwin is a pro, he is not going to let it go that easily.

  40. Gharlane of Eddore

    Definitely incomplete – but actually not really interested in a Kickstarter for part two, or in a part two at all. To my mind this wasn’t a patch on Spacetrawler, and I ended up not caring what happened to any of the characters.

    Spacetrawler had great characters, and even the “bad guys” had something going for them. We knew the central character was going to die, but the manner of her death was ultimately satisfying both dramatically and emotionally. One Way is just… Meh. I can’t say I’m finding Yontengu any better than One Way so far…

    I will certainly check out CB’s new comic, but without much hope. I’m pretty near giving up on Yontengu.

  41. I loved it. I think it takes a lot of risky narrative twists all the time, and the end couldn’t be different.
    In any case, It’s called ONE WAY… so it kind of warned us from the beginning, right?

    Amazing Baldwin! Keep them coming!!

  42. I liked it! As has been mentioned, an interesting take on First Contact. And an important lesson in learning to take beings at their word. And the importance of civility.

    And the ending is extremely poignant.

  43. Hey, Chris!
    This was a pretty interesting ride to take. The SF side was pretty great, the drama between caracters was okay, the drawing style was bad. The ending was, in my opinion, great!

  44. I’ve just finished reading it, and to be honest, I don’t feel disappointed in the ending. The way Orion tried to make a grand speech, couldn’t face what was happening, and sprints away in tears as the door slowly shuts in front of the crew was a powerful image.

    The ship hurtling blackness as she looks out, not responding to anyone, is also such an image.

    That we weren’t told everything is frustrating, but it fits the tone and themes of the tale. some stories just use lazy “shock” twists that have no warning or fit, and I’m glad the didn’t happen here.

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