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‘Innovation #1:’ Comic Book Review

Welcome to Innovation, the brainchild of writer Wes Locher, in which Radical Development Scientific Laboratories Inc. (R.D.S.L.) is crafting the future, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.  This is an anthology series of sorts, with each issue containing four stories written by Locher, with art by four different artists, and all in way or another relating to R.D.S.L.  In this premiere issue, Locher does a solid job of setting up the ambiguity of R.D.S.L., portraying the corporation as mysterious, subversive, progressive, and highly successful and intelligent.  This is a future you aren’t sure you want to be a part of, where you may be a guinea pig without even knowing it and where humans and advanced technology coexist, though often flawed by human error.

The series is drawn in black and white, giving it a sense of continuity across the different stories and art styles.  The quality of the art styles are all very comparable, with personal preference being the biggest qualifier in gauging their success, followed closely by the story that they are relating.  The four stories in the first issue are Curiosity, Intelligence, By Design, and Compliance, with art by Ken Perry, Mike Hatfield, Damon Threet, and Stan Chou, respectively.  Stan Chou’s art was my favorite, though I believe this was partly because Compliance was my favorite story, and I think one definitely informs the other.  I also think that Chou has the best character designs, though I enjoyed the work of the other artists as well, each artist appearing as professional as the last.  All of the artists utilize the black and white medium wonderfully in their own way and collectively use it to strip down emotions and present a cool, cold, and calculating world that often erupts suddenly in emotions brought on by human fallibility and the unexpected results of merging science and humanity.

To say more about the stories would ruin the surprise, and these stories work well when the revelation or conclusion sneaks up on you, sometimes catching you off guard and sometimes playing out in a way you thought it might, but couldn’t be sure of until the end.  Locher is very good at toying with conventions, and he works with pre-conceived notions we have regarding science fiction, while also building his own unique world and telling intriguing stories that mix the expected with the unexpected.  There is a large sense of the unknown that adds mystery to Innovation, though at times I feel the mystery may overwhelm the story, while still being thought-provoking.  I am intrigued to see how R.D.S.L. will further impact the future, and it is obvious that Locher has some very interesting and exciting ideas about the pros and cons of technology, and he knows how to craft short, poignant, and engaging stories to boot.  If our future looks anything like the one that Locher and the artists create in Innovation, then I would much rather read about it from a safe distance than be a part of it, though R.D.S.L. may have different plans, and for all I know an experiment may already be underway.