Peter Milligan brings us New Romancer, a 12-part romance series, which is something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen from him before. Is it good?
New Romancer #1 (Vertigo Comics)
Alexia ‘Lexy’ Ryan used to work for a prestigious company called Incubator, Inc. in Silicon Valley, but after stealing some code, she’s out of a job. As such, she finds herself now working at a VERY small business that’s trying to improve upon their dating app, New Romancer, and make it a success. However, in a very strange turn of events involving some fake romantic profiles she’s making (based off characters from old Victorian romance novels), the A.I. coding she stole from Incubator, and an explosion… something happens. Something VERY strange happens that will certainly flip Lexy’s world upside down.
Peter Milligan’s writing is pretty good here for the most part. He does a fantastic job creating Lexy and fleshing her out in the first issue. You get to learn everything you need to know about her through her letter with her dad, her interactions with others, and the very brief flashback we get of her past, showing how she became a romance fan and computer code expert. Besides the flashback, there’s no exposition dumping going on within the story and the things you learn throughout the comic don’t come off as all that strange or obtrusive. The first half of the comic feels well-paced and storytelling is smooth as it moves from scene to scene (while unfortunately the second half is pretty messy at times).
The artwork is by Brett Parson, who has been drawing the recent Tank Girl comics, and he is great on this comic. Every character is expertly crafted and unique looking in their face, their body language, and their clothes. His layouts are crafted well and there’s a lot of attention to detail in the pages. Everything feels so alive with personality due to the way the characters express themselves, the angles that are used to setup scenes, and the mood and tone in the colors. There are even small details and subtle changes in the art that you may not catch, like when one character is transitioning into another. It’s a great looking comic due to his work and I’m excited to see what else he’ll get to draw as time goes on.
The problem with New Romancer #1 is that it’s awkwardly told a lot of the time. It’s hard to describe, but there are many different things that are off about the story and its scenes: Lexy’s reaction to the appearance of Lord Byron (her emotions and expressions are all over the place); the opening page that appears strangely composed with the narration, the scene that is happening, and the ghost at the end; the scene with Lexy in her room trying to get her program to work; the awkward cuts and transition between scenes in the second half, the abrupt ending of the comic itself, and even more beyond that. There’s just a lot that doesn’t make much sense at this point and it makes it hard to really get invested in the story. It’s also not helped by the fact that comic is referencing Victorian romance novels or famous romance figures in history. This leads to a bunch of the details and references that are lost on a lot of the people who are not familiar with these books or individuals.
Is It Good?
New Romancer #1 is a comic that has potential, but feels like it needed some more fine-tuning. While most of the writing is solid and the artwork is fantastic, the story itself feels awkward and has a lot of holes in it currently. There could be something to this comic worth checking out, but I would recommend waiting a bit until the second issue comes out to get a better read on what it is planning and where it is going.