Tradewaiter: Insurrection v3.6

Sometimes, solicitations really raise expectations for a book. It might be because they make outrageous claims about changing everything forever, or because it’s by the creative team behind critically acclaimed book. Those are used so often in the modern industry, they’re pretty much meaningless. Other times, they subtly promise something great, like this one.

Written by Blake Masters and Michael Alan Nelson
Illustrated by Michael Penick

Enter the future where pollution, poverty, and armed conflict have been obliterated. War only exists on distant planets, fought by corporations using armies composed of bio-engineered clones.

For generations, these clones have not questioned why they live and die while their makers risk nothing. But now, one of their own will stand up against injustice, sparking a revolution that will change the entire galaxy and ignite INSURRECTION!

Join criticallly acclaimed creater Blake Masters and fan-favorite comic book writer Michael Alan Nelson, with art by sensational artist Michael Penick, as they bring you a new sci-fi epic that asks the question: what makes us human?

Did you catch it? It was in the last paragraph, right after the by-the-numbers stuff about how great the creators are. “What makes us human?” That’s a simple question which will be really hard to answer, especially in four issues. Before telling you if “Insurrection v3.6″ lives up to its promise, let’s pick apart that solicitation. First, these guys aren’t clones. They’re robots with skin and AI sophisticated enough to mimic emotions, and they mostly obey Asimov’s three laws. But wait, you ask, wouldn’t it be really easy to beat a three law-compliant army by sending in human troops, who the army wouldn’t be able to hurt? Yes, it would. For the sake of plot, this occurs to no one during the story.

Speaking of the story, it’s set mostly on one part of one planet, immediately after it changes hands from one company to another. The main character, Tim, is a replacement commander for one who died during the takeover. He’s not the first to resent his position under humans, but he’s the first who fights his programming with any success. Before long, he leads an insurrection.

The characters are written well, with realistic and complex motives. The villain in particular suffers from some severe hypocrasy, but his blindness to it feels genuine. In their positions, you may not make the same decisions they do, but all the choices, good and bad, are sound logically. The world-building is done exceptionally well, with hints and allusions to a more complex system than we’re actually shown. This is a double edged sword, because it cuts down on exposition and allows readers to use their imagination, which is usually a billion or so times better than a realized product (see: Star Wars prequals). The first chapter break is seamless, with only a cover separating pages to mark it. The second and third are more noticable because of a time skip, but there is not stuttering dialogue or cliffhangers resolved in flashback.

The art is clear but static. You may be confused about who’s human and who’s robot at first because they look and sound alike. This is probably on purpose, because the level of similarity is an important plot point, but its presentation in the first six pages or so is more distracting than surprising. When the war is fought with blasters, it’s easy to tell what’s going on, but any hand-to-hand conflicts are slightly harder to follow. This is a real detriment, because the scenes your eye should pass by quickly actually go by quicker, destroying the pace. In the end, slight spoiler a panel doesn’t look ambiguous on purpose is very vague on if the hero pushed the villain, or if the villain falls to his death by his own huburis./slight spoiler Penick’s art is not bad, but his style would be better suited for something with a little less action.

The book’s bonus content is limited to a cover gallery, which is almost the same as no bonus at all. The pricetag is a discount of one dollar off the single issues, which doesn’t give the trade much additional value over the single issues (which some shops may have for under cover price). Still, trade is the way to read this book. The story’s rythym is suited for one long read, and you’ll be more likely to read it again off a bookshelf than if the four issues are packed away in a box somewhere.

Final Verdict: 6.5 The story’s there, but the art may be a deal breaker for some.

About The AuthorDrew BradleyDrew Bradley is a long time comic reader whose contributions to Multiversity include the Minding MIND MGMT, Small Press Spotlight columns, and the discontinued Tradewaiter. He also tackles projects like Lettering Week and Variant Coverage. Feel free to email him about these things, or any other comic related topic.

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