‘The Machines:’ Advance Hardcover Review

In a world nothing more than a barren wasteland, the future is so much more devastating than witnessing a helpless crawl through the desert. Human life has been reduced to a minuscule existence: slavery, those in control of these camps, and others being hunted for unique abilities labeling them as metahumans. Surrounding this decrepit way of life is the origin of “the remains of Earth, A.D. 2295” – “Purists.”

The Machines is a dystopian nightmare, beautifully crafted as it gazes ahead a couple hundreds of years, lending a significant glimpse of what life would be like if a war was fought and lost to mechanical beings. Writer John McLean-Foreman, who adapts this story for Dark Horse Books from the self-titled video game from Directive Games, designates a glimmer of hope among this treacherous landscape in the form of a female metahuman, Ryk. McLean-Foreman builds a strong-willed character and lets the reader see her determination early in this hardcover edition, trudging through endless sand, and then establishing her grit as she battles to rescue a friend.

Along the way, Ryk finds an uncommon ally, and the symbiotic relationship between herself and this robot, Bravo Zulu, is a focal point for The Machines' cover page. William Chen illustrates the cover with a brownish-red background, with a layer of fog at the base, as a group of nightmarish machines surround our pair. Red light glows from their evil heads, while long, claw-like fingers reach down to the ground showing their deadly reach. Ryk and her partner stand ready with a bluish glow emanating from one or both of them as this light reaches higher into the sky. Artist Eric Nguyen and colorist Michael Atiyeh draw the interior pages and continue with colorful sequences that illustrate depth and the power of metahuman abilities. The complexity of these powers is represented with how intense or faded these colorful bursts swarm across the page. Our heroine’s ability grants her special access to the robots, and this makes everyone understand her value, resulting in many dangerous situations.

The trusted bond that forms from these hazards, realizing their connection and an overwhelming desire to protect one another, is sincere and immeasurable, leading to the ultimate vulnerability: risking one’s life for the other. Along with their unique relationship, each character stands out on their own. Ryk features grayish-brown hair wrapped with reddish braids, while Bravo Zulu’s overall blue and gray hues and physical form differ from other machines that are clearly different models, generally purple and gray. These differences make it easy to identify our heroes during intense, action sequences, and these scenes are also indicative of the near hopelessness attached with trying to survive. The additional factor of these machines seeming to have some semblance of emotions produces another reason to love this science fiction. On one hand, the evil machines appear to be capable of vindictiveness that is truly terrifying; however, our blue-and-gray hero’s personal attachment to Ryk leads to one of the most genuine moments you’ll ever find in storytelling.

The Machines is available for pre-order before its release on Wednesday, February 15.

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