In a near future where police can see the last moments of a murder victims life, and automatons designed for servitude have been left behind as overpriced and unnecessary whims of technology, ‘After Crime’ Detective Sam Hagen is on the trail of a serial killer whose victims are a little close to home; former cops that Sam has previously investigated for corruption. But when their last memories indicate that a low-level robot is responsible, Sam will have to look into his own past as well as unorthodox theories of robotics to crack the case.
When Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld and friends started Image Comics in the early 90s, as a platform for their shallow vanity projects, I bet never in a month of Sundays would they have guessed that some twenty years later the company would be the home to true innovation and fresh talent amongst the mainstream companies; carrying itself more like an indie label with financial stability rather than trying to emulate the big boys.
Month on month they release mini series’, original graphic novels and ongoing titles by both immerging talent and well established creators looking for a place to stable their creator controlled vehicles. Some are runaway international successes (The Walking Dead), some are strong titles with a furiously dedicated fan-base (Mice Templar, Chew, Invincible, Morning Glories), some remain relatively obscure but take new twists on well trodden genres (Cowboy Ninja Viking, Four Eyes, Elephantmen) and some are masterworks of the medium (Jinx, Torso, I Kill Giants), but come what may, most of the stories feel fresh and provide a welcome change from the never ending adventures of Marvel and DC’s superhero books, even if Image does act as the testing ground from which said companies pluck their future creators.
Creators such as Szymon Kudranski, writer/artist of this months original graphic novel, Repulse, which though not massively original is an entertaining sci-fi/noir/thriller that brings in a few new ideas and keeps you guessing throughout. While the themes echo those of similar material (The Surrogates and I Robot for example), the tone is dark and mature and contains hints of the great crime and sci-fi writers, most prominently James Ellroy and Philip K. Dick. However, it has to be said that some of the science theories/jargon stretches credulity even by the genre’s standards.
More impressive than the writing is Kudranski’s artwork. Fittingly illustrated in black and white, the art of Repulse is well paced, realistic in style, easy to follow and somehow manages to be grim’n’gritty yet crisply readable. It sets the mood perfectly for the story at hand with an effortlessness and confidence that is commendable. You wouldn’t go far wrong comparing his style to a pre-Spider Woman Alex Maleev, if a little cleaner in his presentation.
Repulse, as a seventy plus page original graphic novel, is well worth the $6.99 cover price, especially for those requiring something fresh or a break from the superhero/supernatural genres, and proves Szymon Kudranski a talent worth keeping an eye on.
C+ grade – for originality
B grade – for storytelling
B+ grade – for artwork
Overall grade – B