While not familiar with this comic profession before the Netflix show, the first season on Netflix of “Altered Carbon” gave a crash course in the dynamics with admirable effect but also decent “Blade Runner”-esque visuals. What this new comic installment does is take the noir structure and give it another round. The great aspect of this world is that there is no conception of who the lead actor is so the concept of the sleeves is fairly free comparative to the show who now must change actors. The story in “Altered Carbon: Download Blues” [Richard K. Morgan & Rik Hoslin/Dynamite/128pgs] is pure gumshoe by way of assassins. Someone is cloning famous people using their genomes and using them on the black market. Kovacs, as an ex-Envoy, was trying to keep to himself but a security black market sleeve forces him back into the open to make a deal. The cool thing about Kovacs is that he doesn’t really have any sense of morality but he does have a code which is what keeps him going. When he is targeted for assassination by himself in a way, he has to go, like the show in certain ways, “Total Recall”, thereby finding himself on another planet. The second construct is that this world has is the ability to transfer anybody’s consciousness (if you have the money) via needlecast anywhere the light connection is based. Ultimately Kovacs is requisitioned for good money to track down would-be assassins. He gets his revenge point in the end. “Altered Carbon” with the right tone is pre-neo noir “Runner” style but for the modern age. The creator knows this but understands the fun is in the unexpectedness of the journey and the ability of the character to roll with the punches.
By Tim Wassberg
The essence of Selina Kyle in a new perspective has always been an interesting idea. In a DC Universe where all the heroes comes from some trajectory of tragedy, one more is not necessarily a big surprise. In “Under The Moon – A Catwoman Tale” [Lauren Myracle/DC/208pgs], we get an origin story of sorts. Selina had possibility in terms of a moderately passable childhood but had a mother that either neglected or didn’t understand his own self worth. The reality of the situation is a truism as the actual idea of how this works runs in parallel to Regina Louise whom IR talked to in an interview recently. The situation creates a texture but also the experience of the individual. The story line that involves CInders, which was Selina’s cat she rescues and then loses because of the cruelty of her mother’s boyfriend, scars her for life but causes her not to trust anyone. She runs away from home and lives on the street. Her training with Ono seems organic in terms of how she gains skills. She was already stealing from stores before that so the element of this kind of life is ingrained into her personality anyway. The psychological elements of trust are brought to bear especially with Bruce Wayne whom we see a bigger backstory in terms of their youth. Selina has the modes of communication but she also wants people to make the effort to connect which sometimes is not the nature of human behavior. Because of this stubbornness, she continues to live on the streets and finds her way even if those she really wants to be close keep her at arms length or vice versa. “Under The Moon” is a Catwoman origin story for the new age which unfortunately keys into the isolation of the intention of the character while still keeping it in a time void with its own voice.
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of 70s and, by extension, early 80s horror with some modern sensibility seems to be integrating a little bit into the modern culture currently. The metaphors that were prevalent then seem ingrained in the consciousness now but with a greater sense of informational overload. “Fissure” [Tim Daniel/Vault/112pgs] takes an aspect of body snatcher movies and mixes it with a sense of “Tremors” to create the story of a Texas town under attack. The divide is a large opening in the earth that doesn’t discern between Texans and immigrants. This, of course, is the key intersecting part of the story which creates the tension early on despite an over inundation of would-be social relevance. At the heart of the story is Hark and his Hispanic girlfriend Avery Lee. The chemistry is doctrine but real (say if Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes played the parts) but is based in a texture that both are essentially good people. When the entire the town is seemingly swallowed up including Hark’s dad, they must go into the pit to find what is lost. In the latter half of the book, the underground green texture has almost an oozy feeling of the end of “Aliens” with Hicks and Ripley but without the cool tech (plus Avery Lee is pregnant). Ultimately, say like “Monsters”, escape is possible in one way but impossible in the other although the set up at the end is a little circumspect. Despite this, “Fissure” tries to tell a pertinent story yet tells it only adequately.
By Tim Wassberg