Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday May 17: Doomsday, My Dear

Ladies and Gents! Grab the Popcorn

You're in for a show with 'Doomsday, My Dear'!

Okay, I'll begin this review with a warning: hide the kiddies, this one's mature. Not only is there blood and gore (for some reason our culture has defined indiscriminate killing without thought of consequences as 'mature') but the themes are deep, dark, and convoluted. This isn't ameture hour, ladies and gentlemen. This is V for Vendetta without the easy moral rights and wrongs.
You were warned.
The story revolves around a genetic mutation that causes a disease in the offspring of those who carry it. These 'carriers' are immediate targets for cultural terror and hatred, for their disease costs not only the lives of their children, but of every infant who comes in contact with them. You can imagine the social turmoil. And unfortunately when a culture is stirred up, all the nasty stuff comes floating to the surface.
In Doomsday, we follow several interconnected lives and trials as people try to navigate a new and terrible reality, one where the government has awful powers given to it by terrified mob rule, and the wrong dna will get you killed, or worse.
This fascinating, intriguing and disturbing comic can be found here.

The Rating

A tour de force

The Raves

I don't often find a comic that handles dystopia quite this well. The exposition that is used is done with intelligence and such a strong sense of humanity to the characters. Too often 'dystopia' is a fig leaf for 'blow things up because there really is no tomorrow' but you don't see that in Doomsday. Instead, there's a terrible, helpless sense of menace that cinches your heart strings, aided and abetted by really well used exposition and characterization. These characters are all nuanced, well rounded members of the human race rather than plot points. Their internal struggles are integral to the story, and as strong a motivator as the world acting upon them. It's one of the strongest things about Doomsday; the fact that it allows all characters their humanity even as some of them deny it to each other.
The plot walks the dangerous territory of the multi-pov structure, but it pulls it off seamlessly, keeping the storytelling tight, forward-moving and energetic by depicting realistic characters making difficult decisions.
The art carries that sense of dynamic movement through a strong use of color to denote mood, a quick brush-stroke style to the line work, and extremely expressive body language and use of pose. The character design, posing and page layout work together to draw out the constant theme of impending menace. Oddly, the watercolor-esque style of the comic actually enhances the mood rather than detracting from it; had it been done in a more gritty style, it would have been too easy for the work to devolve into another vigilante piece. But the art style forces you to see all characters as people, not good guys and bad guys. It also underlines the sense that the emotional and mental struggle the characters face is just as valid as the physical one, which is truly unique in the dystopian genre.

But don't worry, this heavy material is leavened by a deliciously snarky wit that will have you bursting out laughing at the oddest moments. What impressed me was that the humor also strengthened the world the artist was trying to create, because it shows normal people trying to use gallows humor as a coping tool to deal with impossible situations. In this comic, even the snappy one liners become an integral part of the storytelling.
Oh, and did I mention that the creator gives you a really wonderful head of this terrible new government to despise? Trust me, you'll love hating her.

But it's the insidious, world war 2-reminiscent anxiety that will stay with you when you close the browser window on this comic, a numbing dread that the creator has instilled in this piece with an almost painful clarity.  This isn't the Mad-Max adrenilin fed terror that lets people blow up other people without a qualm. No, the fear in this comic is the slimy, entrapping, insidious kind that turns authority rotten, that pulls friends apart, that isolates people in their own private bubbles of terror, so afraid of becoming the next target that they dumbly watch atrocity without raising a hand.  It's the kind of numb fear that lets normal people become monsters.
Doomsday not only reminds you that the world can go wrong, but shows you with painful clarity just how easy it is for good, normal people to do evil things.

The Razzes

I've got very little to complain of in this piece, if I'm honest, except for one odd quirk; when the artist depicts blood, it looks like washed out Kool-Aid. I'd like to see a little more reality there; it'd be good to be slapped in the face by that reality, especially given the circumstances.

The Revue

This is MOST DEFINITELY  one to read.

1 comment :

  1. This comic totally deserves it's perfect score! I started reading it on a whim today, and now a few hours later I've burned through all 382 pages and want more!


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