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‘CCTVYLLE: Prelude, No. 00’ – Comic Book Review

Close your eyes.  Imagine yourself sitting on the edge of a small playground.  The bench you sit on looks out over lush green grass, a line of trees in the distance.  At your back there is a swing set, jungle gym, sandbox, usually crawling with young people yelling and playing.  But today, the children are all absent and all you can hear is the rush of wind in the distant trees and the gentle squeak of the swings swaying in the breeze.

Then, the rustle of wings begins, at first unnoticed, blending into the regular noises of nature around you.  The fluttering slowly increases until it creeps into the edge of your awareness.  You are suddenly aware that the volume has become an unnatural cacophony.

You turn around slowly to find the playground apparatus covered with dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of birds.  All staring at you, not with beady, little black eyes, but with glaring camera lenses, a vast crowd of feathered paparazzi.

CCTVYLLE brings us a world where Hitchcock’s The Birds meets the “You are being watched . . . ” surveillance society of the TV show Person of Interest.  Two stories that I personally love, but never imagined in the same universe, until now.

“Set in London of a not-too-distant future, CCTVYLLE tells the story about the dramatic and controversial consequences of living under the suffocating control of thousands of super-smart hybrid birds belonging to a government-run agency.”  Giving constant surveillance intelligence and wings, the writers of CCTVYLLE have created a menacing, omnipresent villain.  Any hint of suspicious activity and a flock of unblinking, taloned, cameras of prey swoop down.

We immediately meet a group of characters who are trying to subvert the system, hide their identities, and shoot down a bird or two in the process.  The most intriguing of these is Sean, who constantly hides his face under a hoodie . . . which is very mysterious.  There’s not a lot of time in this particular issue to spend on backstories, but we end it with a full complement of potential heroes, villains, and armed thugs.

The first thing that struck me was the design for the birds.  Each bird has a unique lens “face,” giving them unique personalities and expression.  It’s also clear that the creators of the birds haveused every available video lens in the effort to create as many birds as possible.  All in all, the effect was extremely creepy, and the sheer numbers of birds in this world is absolutely suffocating.

In general, I was very impressed with the artwork.  I enjoyed the detailed, hand-drawn depiction of the birds.  At the same time, the style felt slick and polished.  Mr. Porcaro has a great control of depth of field and executes close-up frames with wonderful detail.  The overall style lends itself very well to an environment that is both modern and old and to a story combining nature with technology.

While the story flowed quickly, I was confused briefly by some of the transitions between scenes.  The dialogue felt somewhat forced in places, and as a general plot device, I’m not at all convinced that anyone can successfully hide their face with just a hoodie (I’m looking at you, Arrow . . . ), especially from people with whom they’re carrying on face-to-face conversations.  But, these slight objections aside, I was very much taken in by this first issue and can’t wait to see what’s going on next.




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