When the Kickstarter campaign for your comic book series gets support from the likes of Margaret Atwood, George R.R. Martin and Dean Koontz,suffice to say it's going to get picked up by a publisher and released.And so, Dynamite is soon to release Myopia #1, a bold vision of a dense and well realized future from writer Richard Dent and artist Patrick Berkenkotter.
Set in a steampunk art deco future, "Myopia" centres around a pieceof wearable tech called the Formula Media Lens. The Lens is acombination of iPhone, AI and contact lens. It's so ubiquitous a devicein this future that it is now being co-opted as an invasive surveillance tool by the government. The opening issue sets up the world in whichthe story is set, as well as our two protagonists, the mysterious JamesChase and a young boy named Mathew Glen. Chase is on a mission to defythe New World Order, while Matthew is stumbling on a discovery that mayembroil him in Chase's fight.
Based on an award-winning short story of Dent's, the world of Myopia #1 certainly feels well-defined. If there's a flaw to the issue it's thatthe world-building gets a little too dense at points, overwhelming thepace and clarity of the narrative. There's just a lot to take in, andwhile too heavy a richness of amtompshere and setting is probably thebest flaw a story can have, I do wish that Dent had dialled it back abit. As it is, the issue tries to introduce a ton of characters and thefuturistic and detailed world in which they live while simultaneouslydelivering exposition to context to the narrative. I want to stressthat nothing here is bad. All of it is interesting and compelling, but I just think spreading it a little thinner would have resulted in a morebalanced shape to the issue.
As for the narrative itself, it's really intriguing and compelling.The characters are sharply defined, without revealing too much orrobbing them of room to grow. The protagonist James Chase is depicted as enigmatic and interesting, shown to have concern for others in thesociety while still retaining a sense of mystery that could be somewhatsinister. Matthew Glen is rendered less sharply, but the journey he'sembarking on, though only vaguely explained at this point, looks to bethe heart of the series and therefore has a mysterious and compellingquality to it.
Though Dent's issue is dense, that's the result of the contextualmaterial explaining backstory. When it comes to the narrative of themain plot, Dent wisely chooses to allow things to happen without muchexplanation given. There are more than a few mysteries set up here, andthe strength of the writing comes from the fact that Dent is unafraid to confound the reader with exactly what's happening. But the vagueundefined aspect doesn't feel like a flaw, rather a deliberate attemptto make the reader as unsettled and off-guard as the characters are. Ihave no doubt all will soon become clear, and the story proper will beas original and unique a vision as the best parts of the issue suggest.
The art by Patrick Berkenkotter is great throughout. He uses agorgeous futuristic art deco style to build a world that feels stylizedwithout being completely unbelievable. There are a lot of challengeshanded to Berkenkotter by the script, the main one being the nature ofthe technology at the centre of the story, that must have beenincredibly challenging to realize. The fact that he not only keepsthings clear but manages to make them exciting and moodily gripping, istestament to how well he nails the hard task given to him.
Myopia #1 is a true piece of science fiction; awell-constructed, complex and personal vision of the future that speaksto and illuminates aspects of our current society. I'm excited to seewhere the series goes from here, and confident that if it can hold trueto the specificity of the world Dent has in his mind, without lettingthat detail overwhelm the story, we'll have a top notch book to enjoy.9/10
From S.T. Lakata at Fanbase Press:
The list of well-known backers supporting the Kickstarter campaign for Myopia in August 2015 is astounding to see. The expectation for the final product's success, for those that pledged to the campaign, exponentially increases with signed rewards from Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Dean Koontz, and George R. R. Martin, to name a few.
Now, crafting a good story doesn't always mean that answers are readily apparent for the reader, and, sometimes, more questions stack upon themselves before anything else comes to pass. Writer and creator Richard Dent brings the sci-fi thriller, Myopia, to his campaign backers - and the rest of the world - as he builds a finely tuned mystery draped in technology and murder. The opening page immediately introduces the reader to the significant advancements in technology, while also laying a cautionary tale of categorical disaster should anything happen to that way of life.
In the midst of a conversation between two friends, one pauses, closes his eyes, and then reopens them with a bright blue glow. In his corneas, a woman appears and speaks to inform him of a cab service that will be arriving shortly. Instantly, you see the major impact technology plays within Myopia. Upon closing his eyes, and having the glow disappear, the second page further introduces the differences between those that embrace such changes and those preferring simpler existences, even if just to "feel the earth under my feet." There is also a brief discussion about trying to understand the necessity of saying thank you to the automated "she" that provided his taxi.
"I don't know why I bother saying thank you. It's not like she's alive, or a she for that matter."
"Never forget manners. They are the building blocks of society."
In a simple exchange, a dichotomy is formed - becoming accustomed to technology and questioning polite manners versus basic, fundamental human kindness. The complexity shown within the first two pages very well represents a discussion of many topics, while leading the reader on a journey to understand what motivates individuals in this story. Along the way, questions begin to form. Are those vehicles hovercrafts? Who is the person trying to gain access in the "Central Lens Network?" And quite possibly the biggest mystery surrounding this stellar first-issue: who committed murder and why?
Artist Patrick Berkenkotter brings this comic book to life, using softer tones of brown, black, gray, and blue overall. This style allows vibrant colors to come to life each time computer screens activate, headlights beam, lightning strikes, and animated eyes blink within these pages. The illustrations move you through the story at a good pace, capturing dramatic sequences of events with varying sized, overlapping panels, while business letters slow your path to indicate political speak and the devastating effects regarding the mining industry. Did the existence of these letters motivate someone to commit a crime? What was trying to be accessed, and what is the Central Lens Network? These intriguing mysteries, and knowing there are more to come, are the reasons readers will want to continue following this futuristic tale.
Myopia Special #1 is a Dynamite® product and available in print and digital form.