The best thing about The Tomorrows #1 is that its heart is in exactly the right place. It has a very strong vision of what it wants both in tone and in thematic responsibility. So, even when the storytelling doesn’t quite catch up with the task at hand, as if the characters were racing to get to the main beats in the story, it’s an enjoyable read.
I think the biggest thing that holds issue number one back from completely connecting is that Curtis Pires (Shutter) has not written a number one issue – it’s a number two, or at least one and a half. There’s something to be said about dropping a reader directly into a situation and letting them catch up, but it just doesn’t quite work here. There aren’t enough nuances in the characters, or development of the situation within the action, to allow the reader to become completely connected. By the end, it feels like you’ve just been through a three-issue arc in one 32-page comic. There are leaps in logic that would have worked if the story around the characters (or the characters in the story) had been developed more. There’s a sequence in which our main character is suddenly a master of a vehicle she only just rode on for the first time a day before – she is because. Another in which she is drawn into a vault by a whispy-lighty thing, and some sort of entity speaks to her – the entire time I had no idea what was happening, except that it reminded me of Neo speaking to the Oracle in The Matrix. So, I understood what was happening, I just didn’t understand.
Understand? The story hits the beats of the hero’s journey, but doesn’t fill the spaces in between.
The good thing is everything happening is straightforward enough and familiar enough so you never feel left out of the proceedings, I just wasn’t as emotionally invested I wanted to be. So, how can I reason out the fact that I enjoyed the book? Pires approaches everything with a bit of a wink that’s entrenched in a sort of hip, alternative, carefree milieu. He’s goofing around about something serious. The Tomorrows look like they would be living in an art commune, if they weren’t freedom fighters, and it’s kind of hilarious and endearing. Their computer program is Warhol, literally a video screen image of Andy Warhol. So, when we get pretty much the backbone of a story, it didn’t really bother me. I’m not sure if Pires is going to take that as a compliment or not . . .
We’re a little ways in the future and a strange cyber corporate government seems to be cracking down on artists. In the opening one such artist, Zoey, is saved by a stranger in a sort of ninja suit from television screens with human faces and metal tentacles that are sentencing her to death. Her savior takes her to an underground base where there are more like her, the Tomorrows – artists, people who are illegal just because they express themselves, and they are fighting back against an evil corporate figure working on something called Icarus that will control everyone. No one takes the time to explain how, it just will.
Because I never completely felt lost I was able to enjoy some of the knowingly funny lines of dialogue (I guffawed) and the artist’s excellent work. Jason Copland’s (Shutter) layouts are novel. One specific moment when Zoey is being led underground we get an almost 3D look into the underground base that Wes Anderson’s Steve Zissou would be proud of.
Something about this endeavor reminded me of Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s third novel (A great read, and if Pires knows, he’ll take that as a compliment!), and on a subconscious, spiritual level, I’m kind of reminded of Avatar the Last Airbender or Korra, the brilliant cartoon series. I don’t know why. It’s just the spirit of it.
The strangest thing about this book is I kept wondering why I felt like I was reading a comic from BOOM! Studios, because it has that feel. And, it’s because Adam Metcalfe (UFOlogy) has brought his awesome coloring skills to this book.
Take a gander. It feels inspired from some of the best ’90s science fiction but treats the illegal artists as real artists. I’ll be curious to read Issue #2, especially since they got a lot of the familiar hero’s arc beats out of the way, and that means everyone did their job.
*The Tomorrows #1 will be released in July. Be sure to pre-order your copy at your local comic book shop by Monday, June 15.