UXB summed up in just a few words: weird, violent, horrific, bizarre, immature, funny, and strange.
Das Bombast, Muc Olla, and Rifter are three kids thrown out into a dying world, forced to fend for themselves, but Das, Muc, and Rif have a bit of an advantage: their nanotech suits grant them superpowers. Their suits heal them, feed them, even go the bathroom for them, and they can create anything their hearts’ desire, so the only real danger to the boys is a sense of crushing boredom. Fortunately for them, the world is their playground.
Reading UXB is like reading a mix of Lord of the Flies, The Walking Dead, and a rated R version of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Das, Muc, and Rif are royally messed up in the head even before being permanently bonded to the suits, and the way they abuse others (and each other) and force them to provide entertainment seems exactly what a group of children granted superpowers would do with them. They recognize no boundaries and have no understanding of the fragility of life, because these concerns are beneath them, thanks to the suits.
Each of the brothers represents a set of emotions and a certain way of thinking that matches their color schemes. We’ve got Das who is the most balanced brother, their leader, calm (if not rational) who is represented by blue. Muc, represented by green, is the kind-hearted brother who goes out of his way to check on others and to care for them and is mercilessly teased by his brothers for it. And, the foul-mouthed, highly destructive Rifter is represented by red. It’s easy to dislike the brothers, with Muc being the one I actually started to sympathize with by the end. The conversations that take place between the brothers is like watching a single brain argue with itself. The trio does not function without the others there to try and help rein in some of their desires. Colin Lorimer’s dialogue is rich, the rapport between the brothers manages to be funny, heart-warming, and sad as hell at different points.
Lorimer’s art has the same ability to hit these different notes in its depiction of a devastated London. Little touches to the setting like the brothers living in the remains of Buckingham Palace, the destruction littering the streets of the once proud city, and the eclectic mixture of clothes from different eras and crude tattoos for the background characters says a lot about the world. Easily most notable are the bizarre appearance of the brothers themselves. The suits’ filtration systems are large and grotesque, jutting out like a swollen belly. Referred to by Lorimer as “codpieces,” these components make the brothers look inhuman, lacking complete control of their own bodies. Besides the suits, each brother has made additions to his suit that says a lot about their personality like Das’ more regal attire and Muc’s poncho that helps him to hide the codpiece.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about Das Bombast, Muc Olla, and Rifter, because that’s what’s fascinating about UXB, the character study. The plot itself is as bizarre as the characters, taking the time to raise more questions than grant answers and, at times, feels schizophrenic in its storytelling, not quite sure where it’s ultimately heading, but once events start to unfold around the trio, UXB becomes a tale of horror, insanity pitted against insanity, where it’s difficult to know who to root for. UXB is incredibly violent and unafraid of showing severed limbs, foundations of blood, or the effects of torture. Adding to that a huge helping of profanity and the amount the brothers (mostly Rifter) talk about the penises they can’t use, and you have a book that is definitely for mature audiences only.
Four Defiant Test Monkeys out of Five