I'll start by saying that this really is the most ambitious thing that the band have done to date. One part concept record, one part comic book, it is truly a creative work that exists across multiple mediums, and I'll judge try and judge accordingly.
First off, this album was compared to Yes' "Close to the Edge" and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" pretty early on. I don't think it's on the level of those albums, either from a musical, lyrical, or artistic standpoint. It IS still a very good album, though, with plenty of interesting segments and plenty of pay-off for people who give it multiple listens.
As a concept record, though, it seems to fall short. The comic and the album spiral around each other, sometimes intertwining and sometimes completely unrelated. Sometimes, the lyrics seem to have nothing to do with the comic included at all; other times, they seem at best to borrow imagery of the comic for purposes unrelated to actual story telling.
And that's what this project seems to be: a puzzle of sorts, or a prequel of things never to come. Without the comic book and art direction forming the backbone of this work, the other contents by themselves probably would not be very good. Yet the 'backbone' that the comic book actually provides seems to be more of a semi-cohesive gel; it sticks everything together somehow, but it's unable to support what the album is as it tries to lift itself up past those classic albums it admittedly aspires to.
More narrative here, an actual tie-in with the comic and story-telling through music rather than a themed 'cosplay parade' of its future contents would have been better. Still, I love this addictive album for what it is: a failure, but a beautiful one. Like another album, Yes' "Tales from Topographic Oceans," this album collapses under its own ambition before making it off the flight-deck.