When the Kickstarter campaign for your comic book series gets support from the likes of Margaret Atwood, George R.R. Martin and Dean Koontz, suffice to say it’s going to get picked up by a publisher and released. And so, Dynamite is soon to release Myopia #1, a bold vision of a dense and well realized future from writer Richard Dent and artist Patrick Berkenkotter.
Set in a steampunk art deco future, “Myopia” centres around a piece of wearable tech called the Formula Media Lens. The Lens is a combination of iPhone, AI and contact lens. It’s so ubiquitous a device in this future that it is now being co-opted as an invasive surveillance tool by the government. The opening issue sets up the world in which the story is set, as well as our two protagonists, the mysterious James Chase and a young boy named Mathew Glen. Chase is on a mission to defy the New World Order, while Matthew is stumbling on a discovery that may embroil him in Chase’s fight.
Based on an award-winning short story of Dent’s, the world of Myopia #1 certainly feels well-defined. If there’s a flaw to the issue it’s that the world-building gets a little too dense at points, overwhelming the pace and clarity of the narrative. There’s just a lot to take in, and while too heavy a richness of amtompshere and setting is probably the best flaw a story can have, I do wish that Dent had dialled it back a bit. As it is, the issue tries to introduce a ton of characters and the futuristic and detailed world in which they live while simultaneously delivering exposition to context to the narrative. I want to stress that nothing here is bad. All of it is interesting and compelling, but I just think spreading it a little thinner would have resulted in a more balanced shape to the issue.
As for the narrative itself, it’s really intriguing and compelling. The characters are sharply defined, without revealing too much or robbing them of room to grow. The protagonist James Chase is depicted as enigmatic and interesting, shown to have concern for others in the society while still retaining a sense of mystery that could be somewhat sinister. Matthew Glen is rendered less sharply, but the journey he’s embarking on, though only vaguely explained at this point, looks to be the heart of the series and therefore has a mysterious and compelling quality to it.
Though Dent’s issue is dense, that’s the result of the contextual material explaining backstory. When it comes to the narrative of the main plot, Dent wisely chooses to allow things to happen without much explanation given. There are more than a few mysteries set up here, and the strength of the writing comes from the fact that Dent is unafraid to confound the reader with exactly what’s happening. But the vague undefined aspect doesn’t feel like a flaw, rather a deliberate attempt to make the reader as unsettled and off-guard as the characters are. I have no doubt all will soon become clear, and the story proper will be as original and unique a vision as the best parts of the issue suggest.
The art by Patrick Berkenkotter is great throughout. He uses a gorgeous futuristic art deco style to build a world that feels stylized without being completely unbelievable. There are a lot of challenges handed to Berkenkotter by the script, the main one being the nature of the technology at the centre of the story, that must have been incredibly challenging to realize. The fact that he not only keeps things clear but manages to make them exciting and moodily gripping, is testament to how well he nails the hard task given to him.
Myopia #1 is a true piece of science fiction; a well-constructed, complex and personal vision of the future that speaks to and illuminates aspects of our current society. I’m excited to see where the series goes from here, and confident that if it can hold true to the specificity of the world Dent has in his mind, without letting that detail overwhelm the story, we’ll have a top notch book to enjoy. 9/10
Myopia #1 will be released tomorrow, Nov. 2, 2016.