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‘Arcadia #4:’ Advance Comic Book Review

I always begin an issue of Arcadia having no idea what’s happening, find my bearings, and then end having no idea what just happened. This is one of the most complex books out there, and it takes the ability to really pay attention to follow everything. Not a word here is wasted, and not an image doesn’t matter. It’s 24 pages of a cohesive dream state.

A very large population of the world was loaded into a computer simulation after a virus threatened to wipe everyone out. A portion of the simulated people are fighting back and using a very esoteric means of retrieving a password to gain control over the simulation called Arcadia. They control everything. You see, two people have been killed in Arcadia, which is supposedly impossible to do, and this small faction blames the “meats,” or the humans, on the outside world who control Arcadia. But, Arcadia has a potential savior – a skeleton key, someone that was born inside the simulation, which is highly illegal.

Alex Parknadell has created a world in which humans are programs and coding, and he finds incredibly creative, innovative, and mind-boggling ways to represent that reality on the page. Eric Scott Pfeiffer’s artwork keeps pace, showing us surreal images that reflect the state of mind of the characters involved.

This is an elegant and intelligent piece of science fiction that takes all of our id’s fears but doesn’t remove it from our subconscious; instead, the comic explores it in a metaphorical mirror of our subconscious - the maze of the digital age, where we’re siphoned down to a literal series of coding, where our daily lives have actually become a series of applications that feel more real than reality, where our status is essentially elevated by how much memory and information we can store. To save our lives, we’ve lost our lives to something that - in our real reality - has already taken over our lives. Suddenly, I start to see Arcadia as a modern-day horror story that maybe we already live in.

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