November 24, 2013

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Monkeybrain on the Brain: D4ve #1

When Monkeybrain debuted in July 2012, I took a little time to feature a review on each of the debut titles, which I called "Monkeybrain on the Brain." Now it's home to Eisner winners and creators ranging from Kurt Busiek to Jen Vaughn and I figured that now would be as good a time as any to revisit the line.

Over the course of November, I'll be featuring different Monkeybrain titles, both new and old. You can find them under the Monkeybrain tag, which includes links back to the ones I did initially.

Written by Ryan Ferrier
Illustrated by Valentin Ramon

Whelp, the robots have taken over the Earth--and the known universe. Now what? The answer is incredibly human in this new series that looks at what happens when the horror movie actually ends with everyone human dead.

Ryan Ferrier has a really original idea on his hands, and I think it's pretty cool to speculate that with all the humans gone, the robots that once were designed to replace their menial tasks would eventually go on to emulate their menial lives. Dave has a shitty job working in finance, with a boss who hates him and a friend who likes to drink and go to robotic stripper bars. He used to matter--his job was on the front lines fighting monsters and eliminating biological life. Now he can't even do enough to keep his mechanical bride happy.

It's an interesting way to look at a dystopia after all human hope is gone, but there is a bit of a leap in logic that the robots would just assume human roles and needs, like marrying or ordering children. I'm also a bit uncomfortable with the fact that the female robot hectors D4ve and the only other "girls" we see are the strippers. It feels like in trying to capture a bit of a 1960s science fiction vibe, Ferrier's gone a bit too far in bringing over the unpleasant tropes  as well. (There are other ways to show a man is miserable beyond "oh look, his 'wife' hates him.")

That concern aside, the conceit is pretty brilliant, and artist Ramon brings it to live brilliantly by keeping everything looking incredibly mundane. D4ve wears rumbled office clothes. They drink oil from coffee cups with stupid slogans. The office and home don't have amazing technology, either, beyond a few touches that highlight we are in the future, like a cyber paper. The style of the art is a bit like Frank Quietly, with an emphasis on details, though Ramon's layouts aren't quite as innovative, at least not yet.

D4ve issue one features a lot of set-up, but the premise is incredible, and looks like our "hero's" refusal to give up his warrior past might just save the day, if he can get out of his doldrums. This one's got great potential, along with a few rough edges, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.