This is the second issue of Innovation, an indie sci-fi anthology that presents four different stories that are all connected through the future tech company Radical Development Scientific Laboratories Inc., or R.D.S.L as it is more commonly called. Wes Locher, who created Innovation, writes each of the four short stories, as well as letters the book, and he is joined by four unique and very different artists. The whole concept is an intriguing one, and the interlocking motif of the machinations of R.D.S.L. ties even the most seemingly disparate stories together in a mysterious, almost unsettling way. Issue #2 has an especially cohesive feel to it due to the fact that all of the stories take place in the R.D.S.L. compound, on various levels of this elaborate, high tech facility. There is a sense that all of these stories could be happening simultaneously and that the repercussions of one story may affect the outcome of another story later on in the series, or that mistakes or problems may not even be realized or discovered until much later, because the facility is so heavily compartmentalized. These are the exciting thoughts and ideas that Locher sparks as he continues to develop this complex, highly technological, and morally ambiguous futurescape.
Providing art for the stories, titled Concealed, Complication, Syllabus, and Communication, are artists Paul McCallan, Stan Chou, Adrian Crasmaru, and Jay Hernandez. Each artist has their own unique style and use the black-and-white minimalism in different ways. It is obvious to see the various artists’ strengths and where they have room to grow, and Innovation is a great creative place for them to hone their skills. Chou is the only returning artist, and, even better, his story is a continuation of the story he drew from the first issue. Once again, his art was my favorite, and I felt the strongest, though this is a subjective opinion and may be different for others. The stylistic differences fit with the various stories, and some of the artists appear more adept at sequential storytelling than others, but, again, just like the infinite amounts of testing done by R.S.D.L., this is the perfect vehicle for these artists to explore their abilities, to take risks and to see what they are capable of, and to learn their strengths and weaknesses. As Innovation continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how and if the numerous stories begin to play into one another and to see what other sci-fi scenarios Locher will engineer deep inside the labyrinthine hallways and laboratories of R.S.D.L. Innovation shows us the possibilities of science and ingenuity and reminds us of the power, danger, wonder, and terror of technology.