By Douglas Rushkoff and Steph Dumais
Published by Disinformation; $19.95 USD
Rushkoff is a respected nonfiction writer and novelist whose work is mainly about how the media and other forces shape our perceptions of reality. He seeks here, in his first graphic novel, to reach the impressionable, manga-consuming youth market, with a similarly themed story tailored to their interests. Under a sharply designed cover in the usual Disinfo color troika of red, black and white, we find Zeke, a college student experiencing a dream state party-to-end-all-parties at a club called Zero-G that feels utterly real. It seems he's been invited to something special, a carefree, warm gathering that feels like extasy is supposed to feel.
What makes Zeke different is that he remembers Club Zero-G in the waking world. He's the only one who can do this, at least until he has sex in Zero-G with the girl he likes at school (she's stuck-up in our reality), and then she's able to remember, too. We learn about the four young people from the future who have created Zero-G as a way to stop their reality, The Consensus, from happening, by inspiring a revolution twenty years earlier. It's a clever idea, and though it's a bit of a struggle in some places keeping track of the plot, that's generally part of the fun.
But what really blows it is the artwork. Dumais' simple style has a naive charm, but is just not suited to the sophistication of the story. The accompanying press material makes a claim for his art being mangaesque, but it's not. It's just thick, simple and not terribly attractive or distinctive. A side effect of Rushkoff being a published nonfiction and prose author is that one has a higher expectation of his comics. If he's going to delve into comics, one figures, it will be for a project deserving of, and receiving, a graphic representation as startling and sophisticated as the prose and the ideas contained within that prose. Dumais is far from the ideal choice here, and the first impression one has upon cracking the book is "free online/college newspaper strip". The art is a poor fit with the story, and dilutes much of its impact.
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