Ram V, writer; Devmalya Pramanik, art; Dearbhla Kelly & Alex Sollazzo, colours; Aditya Bidikar, Letters
Reviewed By Tom Zimm
The book begins at an isolated cabin in the woods. A saucer antenna and solar panels on the roof give it a futuristic feeling despite its rustic exterior. An old man, the Tinkerman, lies on the floor with a young boy crouched over him, Jack “The runner.” This story follows Jack after his episode in the cabin. The story picks up 12 years later with Jack trying to make safe passage to Paradiso. He is well-traveled by then and looking for a new start. It’s a dystopian world that is in a state of regression. Jack is a member of the lower class. Paradiso, is what its name implies: paradise.
We learn that Jack was an apprentice of the Tinkerman where he learned to work on machines. The Tinkerman’s parting gift to Jack is a very interesting machine he wears around his neck, which comes into play later in the story. The machine shines bright green and seems to have the power to bring things back to life. Speaking of machines, a number of characters are part living and part machine.
Jack meets a couple of people in a bar and decides to meet them later the next day. During their trip to Paradiso, the car he’s in is ambushed by two scavengers. The scavengers, Mr. Honeybad and another man, take the machine from Jack’s neck and leave him lying unconscious on a desolate part of the city. The next sequence of panels inform the reader that the men back in the bar are interested in the machine. In addition, another party, a very large half man half machine character appears to learn about the confiscation of the machine, which piqued his interest.
As dystopian stories go this one ticks most of the boxes. There’s interesting technology, a mysterious object, and a wayfaring hero. However, the only true human connections are developed between the Tinkerman, who passed in the opening sequence, and Jack. The story touches on the connection between Jack and a young boy whose mechanical toy he fixes; however this scene is short-lived and seems to exist solely to inform the reader of the power of the machine around Jack’s neck. The story piques my interest because of the art and the dystopian context; however, it will need to develop some connections between the characters to engage my completionist gene.