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‘Arcadia #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

There’s some really heavy, philosophical science-fictioning going on in BOOM! Studios’ Arcadia, and it’s only Issue #1. Allow me to introduce you to comic book creators Alex Paknadel (writer) and Eric Scott Pfeiffer (artist).  Say hello, they have something to say. What they have created is a complex series of situations that will take more than one issue to really start wrapping your head around, though there’s enough here to get started.

It begins abstractly and fills in the blanks as you go. You have to actually think about what you’re reading and seeing, because each image doesn’t only tell the story, but tells a story within a story – there are ideas planted in almost every frame here. When I was done, I went back and immediately read it again. I’ll give you a bit of a head start here.

It seems a virus threatened to wipe out humanity. Instead of letting almost four billion people die, they uploaded them into a giant server – hello, metaphysical Sims – where people can’t die, but instead regenerate in a very painful process that can take hours to complete. Fall from the sky and splatter everywhere – your bones will pop back into place, and your intestines pull themselves back in. Hello, Utopia!

Now, we have Arcadia, the digital world, and the real world where The Meat lives. Arcadia is taxing the power supply of the real world forcing the new President of the real world into giving Arcadia a visit to reach an agreement.

Meanwhile, a rabble-rousing teen inside Arcadia is doing just that. She represents the wealthy of Arcadia that can afford to purchase the programming that gives you skin, eyes, lips . . . that basically will let you look human. The ones that can’t afford to look human end up looking like human silhouettes of silvery dripping goo.

Holy crap. The more I write about this, the more its brilliance is really sinking in. But, that’s all the sharing I’ll do for you – you’ll have to do your thinking on your own. Paknadel and Pfeiffer’s work here is kind of awesome. You can see the thought that’s been put into this. Pfeiffer’s artwork is both nightmarish and dreamy – but always has an edge of surrealism which I very much appreciate. Coloring wise, it’s a really beautiful book to look at – the foreboding feeling you get when outside in the real world at night, the imagery of a girl flying in front of a helicopter with light blues, purples, glints of white sunlight, and the multicolored world of the city of Arcadia. Los Angeles with its green, blues, reds, and yellows gives you the distinct feeling of standing in the middle of Hong Kong – it’s the winged dinosaurs that make you feel like you’re nowhere you’ve ever been before. The variant cover by Pfeiffer is a glorious piece of cinematic artwork. A lot of love and effort have been put into this on all sides.

If you love science fiction, I highly recommend purchasing Arcadia #1. I highly recommend keeping an eye on any science fiction that BOOM! produces – their editors have an enlightened eye for talent and stories.