Writer(s): Fines Massey, Chris Burgess
Artist(s):Kristofor Harris, Michah Myles, Jul Mae Kristoffer
C.H.A.R.L.1.3 does a fantastic job of inserting you into a brand new world with all the impact of a futuristic bullet to the brain.
The protagonist we meet is a left-over cyborg with advanced artificial intelligence and a habit of self-critical monologuing. The world has been turned into a wasteland as the result of a war with an invading alien force. Outnumbered and outgunned, the humans opted to build a series of robots to take their place on the battlefield, and, after some initial success, the aliens retreated to their strongholds on the west coast of the US.
However, up above the Earth the remaining world leaders decide to not risk further assault and nuke a number of cities – an act which serves as enough of a deterrent for a shaky truce to form between the two sides. Now robots like our protagonist find themselves tasked with patrolling the American wasteland, making sure the alien population behaves itself and that any wandering humans are steered towards the safety of the East coast.
While the apocalyptic wasteland isn’t a unique concept by any means, writers Massey and Burgess have managed to provide an intriguing spin on the concept. They’ve done away with the usual ‘wandering leather clad road warrior’ and in his place inserted a new dynamic which shines a light on the future of artificial intelligence, and what being human actually entails.
Hearing his monologue as he begrudgingly fulfils his mission, we get to watch our robot trace his own development from simple “point gun and shoot” days to his incessant search for a power source. What adds another dimension to the character is that when he is finally given this so-called ‘gift’ of consciousness he doesn’t revel in it but actually sees it as a burden, to the point where every time he is reminded that he could die he constantly wonders if he should even bother with his mission.
It’s fantastic to see such development in any comic let alone within one introductory issue, and C.H.A.R.L.1.3. manages to do this without sacrificing amazing set pieces and action for the sake of the story.
On the visual side of the book, Kristofor Harris has a unique artistic style. The world he draws pays homage to the western vintage vibe of Fallout while still maintaining the dystopian futuristic setting. He does a great job here of balancing the modern aspects in the detailed complex mechanics of the robot with the dusty spaghetti western dumping ground all around. What I also particularly liked is that the violence is clear but there’s not actually a lot of blood. It’s a choice I haven’t seen much of, and while the gore is there it’s almost like the artist didn’t want to distract from the action itself by just covering the panels in red ink.
A fascinating new series with an existential take on dystopic sci-fi, C.H.A.R.L.1.3. comes highly recommended. Sadly however, as with most independent comics, it also leaves me waiting with baited breath for the next issue and look into this fascinating world.
If you want to find out more about C.H.A.R.L.1.3, including how to get your hands on a copy of the first two issues, make sure to check out the official Facebook page by CLICKING HERE.
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
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