Written and Art by Szymon Kudranski, Published by Image comics, Retail Price $6.99.
Set in the not so distant future, this tale is less Sci-Fi and more of a Crime/Drama. For the most part the future tech is a plot device to move the story along and does it almost effortlessly. Our exposure to Szymon’s work has been limited to Spawn, but this comic stretches his artist wings. Don’t let the $6.99 price tag scare you away, this is a solid offering, not without its flaws, but a quick and fun read that has a few twists along the way.
The tone is set from the get go as we see two quick scenes. The first scene is that of a robot essentially rebooting itself in what appears to be an abandoned building somewhere. The second is a murder, seen through the eyes of the victim. In a great twist, we first meet police Detective and main character, Sam, while he is throwing up his guts at the murder scene. Now from the narration up to this point, it is revealed that Sam is part of the “After Crime Division”. He can use a device that takes a blood sample from the victim, and inject it into himself to see the last images the victim saw. Of course, this process of investigating takes its toll on Sam, but it becomes clear that something else that has also taken its toll on Sam – the disappearance of his son. Before Sam was in the “After Crimes Division” he was in Internal Affairs (IA) and was investigating dirty cops. Sam then received a threat against his son but wouldn’t give up on the case. Then, his son goes missing. Sam like many fathers is shaken to the very core of his soul, destroying his marriage and life with booze and women. The wounds of his past have formed scabs, and when the murder victims turn out to be the very cops Sam investigated, the scabs are ripped right off. Sam uses the implant device to see the murder, but the dirty cop was killed from behind and the only thing he could see was a robotic hand. Each murder scene is void of fingerprints or murder weapons, but each location had large amounts of rust found everywhere, which puzzles the detectives. Without spoiling too much of the story, Sam finds the case he is working runs parallel to that of the case he last investigated in IA, that cost him his son. And what does a defunct robot manufacturer have to do with all of this? There is an interesting twist to the plot that you don’t see coming which deals with Sam’s fate that’ll hit you like a ton of bricks.
On the writing side, Szymon really captures a unique feel, making the book seem like it’s only a decade or so in the future. The story will pull you in, beginning with the fast-paced opening scene and straight through to the end. The dialogue was a high point. He captures the awkwardness in the conversation between Sam and his ex-wife. It’s clear she has moved on with her life, where Sam distracts himself from the loss of his son by drinking. What also makes this work is it’s a one shot and was a fully self contained story that wasn’t trying to set up some bigger story.
On the art side, Szymon seems to be having fun with this book, especially the dark grittiness and the future tech. The robot character design is a lot of fun that seems both functional and slightly futuristic, but grounded in the present a sort of “future/present” feel. Another highlight is the blood/dirt smears in the panel borders that helps to give the book a gritty and slightly noir feel. There are two down sides to the art: The first is the overuse of radial blur or whatever blurring effect was used. It works in some panels when characters are in the rain, or during a murder scene, but is definitely overused. The second is toward the end of the book where the faces become inconsistent making it hard to determine in a few panels who you were looking at.
SciFi and crime fans alike will dig this book that is fun look at our possible near future.
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