Brian K. Vaughn has more stories in his head than a damn library.
His pay-what-you-want experiment with artist Marcos Martin, Private Eye, was a test for him to see if he could produce a comic story, DRM free, and release it online for whatever the audience chose to drop in his busking hat.
As someone who enjoys paying full price for BKV’s goodness (sometimes twice, for individual issues and for collected “reading” copies), the fact that there’s a physical copy being released from Image Comics is good news for me and for my more and more crowded bookshelf. Still, let’s take a look at how this latest venture measures up, and if it’s worthy of your own hard earned gold pieces.
“Sir? The back of your head is freaking me the hell out. Sir? SIR?”
Set in 2076 after the “Cloudburst,” a global event that saw everyone’s online lives revealed in full – from private photos to search history (kill me if this happens), the future is a very different one than we imagine. For starters, the fallout of this burst is that the internet is no more. A fact that our protagonist P.I.’s tatted up Millennial grandfather has a hard time grasping:
I have seen my future, and it still looks pretty awesome.
The other result of this privacy explosion is that privacy is now taken incredibly seriously, so much so that people tend to only exist outside their own homes in masks, and unwanted photography is against the law. Enter our P.I. – a papparazzo – dedicated to finding out more information about targets and paid handsomely to do so.
Of course, there’s some conflict associated with this job, and horror of horrors…furries:
AHHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHH. KILL IT KILL IT.
P.I. and some sidekicks find their small investigation growing larger, spreading to murder plots, police concerns, and even the potential for the privacy they hold so dear to be threatened.
The world-building here – how people can only use masks when they come of age, the realities of a world without internet, and even the incredibly badass evolution of the journalists of this new age – are all incredibly well done and fun to experience.
Marcos’ art is pretty damn jaw dropping at times, with huge splash pages and intros that not only bring to mind a sunnier and happier Blade Runner of sorts, but also really allow the full color options of digital comics to blow your hair back.
A note to readers: as a Gen X’er and video game addict, the Grandfather character struck a chord in me, as it’s likely what I’ll end up looking like as an old and shriveled up 80 year old—still trying to pwn noobs in online deathmatch, and yelling at the kids with their new fangled holograms and the like.
I need to shave my head and get some tats, but pretty close…
Is It Good?
This is a 300 page graphic novel, and I flew through it like it was a single issue. The setting, a wonderful future that wil look horrific to us internet addicts of today, is genius – and incredibly timely as well.
The idea that privacy is a thing to be protected at all costs seems a bit extreme, but picture what your grandmother would think of your Google search history, and then tell me the though of a Cloudburst type situation isn’t horrifying.
BKV weaves all of this together under the framework of a true private detective type noir tale, with side characters, dames, and a pretty great subplot about rising ocean levels.
This is 10/10 good. I read this for the first time on my train trip home, and nearly missed my stop I was so engrossed. This is yet another BKV joint that I can’t say enough good things about, but I’ll let you decide if this is worth the cost of admission to a physical copy.
If you’re a fan of the comic book medium and you want to keep the risk takers alive, these are probably the types of creative weirdos you should be supporting, as they try odder and odder things – and release them in fun ways.