Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Matt Hawkins
Artist: Raffaele Ienco
Release Date: 9th December 2015
What if, instead of the dystopian future we all seem to fear these days, we were presented with a perfect utopia? A place where robots and computers did all of the manual tasks, and kept our society running at optimum levels. A time when things like sickness, disease, and violence were a thing of the past and people lived long, peaceful lives with plenty of recreational pursuits to keep us entertained for life. However, what if the price of that utopia, was the removal of ambition, diversity, creativity, from the human genome, rendering the human race a collection of pacified, blinkered clones? Well, that’s exactly the premise of this mind-blowing new series from creators Matt Hawkins and Raffaele Ienco.
Told from the perspective of the central character, Michael, the story opens with the apparently accidental death of his brother, before shifting to his sheltered, meticulously controlled upbringing. The flashback provides a window into the society they inhabit, where humans are nameless and sexless from birth, bred for genetic perfection. A natural disaster provides the catalyst for Michael and Maricela’s relationship, which somehow contributes to the death of his brother Matthew, and potentially, to the demise of their society.
The breakdown of a seemingly perfect civilisation is not exactly a new premise (Rollerball, Logan’s Run, Gattaca, to name a few), but writer Matt Hawkins has invigorated the concept, constructing it around a love story, and asking a raft of philosophical and moral questions about the subjective nature a of utopia, and the of sacrifice societal order for selfish ends. His background in physics gives the script an authentic and believable sensibility, striking a fine balance between intellectual stimulation and being overly verbose. Action is used sparingly, taking a back seat to story progression, and it’s clear this is a writer who intuitively understands the genre.
The art on display in the book is mightily impressive, too, with Raffaele Ienco bringing his striking, almost photo-realistic style to the story. Characters facial expressions in particular brilliantly convey the nuances of the script, and the homogenised environment is filled with seemingly insubstantial minimalist technology. In the sci-fi genre, it must be difficult to create truly unique designs, but Ienco does an admirable job on that score. The sinister black-suited figures we see chasing Matthew at the beginning are a perfect example of how familiar designs can retain an innovative quality of their own in the right hands.
So, just in case you were in any doubt, I’d highly recommend you check out this series. A brilliant conceit that’s stunningly illustrated, Symmetry is stimulating and challenging sci-fi to the nth degree.