Sean Maher's Quality Control

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Advance (Sort Of) Review: Continuity

Continuity had me worried.

Don't get me wrong - it looked pretty damn good. A girl whose dreams shape reality? So she dreams herself pregnant, and can't fall asleep again for fear of accidentally destroying the world or killing her baby? Awesome premise. Packed with potential.

But the drug thing kinda made me nervous. Blade Runner meets Fear And Loathing, was the pitch I thought I heard.

And I'm really not big on drug stories anymore; especially stories in that 2000 A.D. vein that this seemed to fit into, it just seemed like a bad idea. "Please, let the drug stuff take a back seat," I thought to myself.

Luckily, my dreams shape reality, too.

The drug thing takes a back seat.

The rest of it is really pretty goddamned good.

It's a character study, really, but dressed up as a paranoid sci-fi psychological thriller. After an opening drugs-n'-violence sequence that sets the stage for the closing scenes of the book, we're brought back into heroine Alicia's earlier days and take it from there, and it's then that the real tone and character of the story unfolds itself.

It's a book about being alone, about feeling strange and somehow wrong and dangerous, and struggling to pull out of that. Writer Jason McNamara hits on several different aspects of this challenge, addressing themes of alienation, friendship, responsibility, control, determination and invention over the course of an emotionally dense adventure story. It's a pretty relatable story, really - Alicia longs as we all do for acceptance and confidence and love, but fears that she'll be unable to control her own destructive potential if she actually gets those things. She can't let her guard down and relax (or, hell, enjoy life) because the moment she stops constantly examining her every impact on the world around her, she'll make a terrible, irrevokable mistake and hurt not just herself but those she cares for in the process. I'm reminded a bit of Spider-Man's guilt-ridden motivation as a hero and his "With great power must come great responsibility" mantra; the difference is that while Peter Parker fears the violence of others, Alicia fears herself.

Tony Talbert's artwork puts this emotionally exhausting story into entertaining relief, capturing the intense moments with gritty detail when the script needs it and adding some levity and humor when the story needs to lighten up for a moment. The action sequences are strong and the movement is easily translated, but what strikes me in particular are the character designs; looking at the page below, I think Alicia's facial expression is really sharp, and I like the almost primitive features of the drug-addled 1984 Big Brother cop, the result of an anxiety towards the police in a dream from which Alicia's just woken:

I'm also impressed with the following dream sequence, which I think includes all the necessary detail in one full-page splash without going on and on with the usual rote monologue such dream sequences often subject us to for page after page. Behold deceptive simplicity:

I'm much impressed with this one, and you can be, too: as mentioned at the end of March, the entirety of the book is online at this PDF address:

The "dead tree version" is out on June 21st, for those who prefer to hold 'em in their hands. If such is your way (as is mine - I read a printed out version), I'd suggest taking a look at the Jason McNamara interviews on Comicon and Newsarama; he's a clever fellow.

Cheers. I'm off to spend ridiculous amounts of money on comics today.
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