Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Omar Francia
Letters: Zak Saam
Release Date: 15th August 2019
I’m struggling to think of a halfway decent adjective to better describe the look of what I’ve just read. Before even getting into the meat of the story one needs to just take a breath and savour the visuals. Almost every panel contained within this is first issue is of high-end cover quality. Now if I’m being honest, I’ve probably had a few gripes about this kind of highly rendered approach in the past, but the shimmer and shine here fits hand in glove with the subject matter. Starting with an appreciation of the art isn’t to deflect from the content, either. This definitely isn’t a case style over substance, it’s a happy pairing of the two.
I don’t know if there’s an equation for what makes a good opening issue but Parrott, Francia, and Saam seem to be following one. Starting with the birth of a new AI, we are thrown into a future where artificial intelligence or artificial life is commonplace. Instead of the apocalypse posited by the likes of Terminator or Hawking though, the AIs here are essentially regular joes having won their freedom ‘living’ with the realisation that existence doesn’t come without a heap of struggles.
It’s an interesting idea to take the worries of automation that currently exist and extrapolate these out even further. What happens if you are the coolest android on the block one week only to find that a new processor, upgraded RAM, or functional attachment has rendered you redundant and struggling for work? And all of this is just world building gravy. The crux of the plot seems to centre on the appearance of a degenerative computer virus called ‘Rust’ which is afflicting the downtrodden AI. On top of this we have criminal escapades and a conspiracy regarding the now legendary original AI creator and how it all ties together.
Taking a pinch of inspiration here and a sprinkling of influence there and we have with the beginning of a mystery which could go any number of ways in any number of genres. Sure there are obvious comparisons with the likes of Asimov but can you tell an AI story without someone making some sort of connection? Volition manages, like the classics, to sneak in some big questions into a far more digestible modern format.
To try and reign myself back in, it’s unclear if this sort of output is sustainable through the span of an arc. To have such a cracking start is a double-edged sword as the team has set themselves a high bar to follow. That said, the preview pages for #2 strongly suggest this is one to jump on early.
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster