Page 45 Review by Jonathan
This batch... I came cross some primo chemo... tweeked the playlist. Strong like bull, so go eez. Little tastes or your headll come off. You ear me, Orson?
I ear, I ear. Lil tastes.
You kno yer funs are low...
Kno, I know. Why Im goin out beyond the Rise tonight.
Couple junkers been fishin there, bringing in significant hauls. New currents, draggin out the good shit.
The duo behind the complex crime classic 100 BULLETS return, this time with a grimy post-apocalyptic piece set in the deprived fringes of a coastal city, where the rich live in splendid isolation high and dry behind a huge protected wall, and everyone else is pretty much left to fend for themselves amongst the flotsam and jetsam, left behind by the rising sea levels that have flooded most of the original city and indeed coastal areas all around the world.
Theres a thriving society there, but its populated by as many lowlifes, whores, junkies and crooks as honest people, it seems. In other words, a tough neighbourhood! Good job, then, that our hero Orson was bred, or more precisely engineered for an even tougher one, Mars. Designed for the rigours of prolonged space travel, hes one of a handful of so-called Spacemen, who have more than a touch of the look of Neanderthal about them. Hes a sensitive soul deep-down, though, and when he finds himself caught up in the midst of a kidnap plot, he takes it upon himself to try and do the right thing. Bad idea...
Excellent story from Azzarello which definitely has a feel of a William Gibson book about it. The dialogue is entirely done in an extremely credible future dialect too, which is part phonetics, part contracted (well, strangulated) slang, which is an extremely hard trick to pull off successfully. All too frequently this type of linguistic trick distracts or irritates, but I found myself drawn in even further to the story by it here. Clearly, this is primarily a crime caper, even though also a worryingly plausible future fiction, and that is something Azzarello knows how to do perfectly as he sets out his suspects, then muddies the already muddy waters a little further still. Rissos art compliments the writing perfectly as ever, capturing the inequities and equalities that exist everywhere in such a polarised, dystopian society and he easily demonstrates Orsons Caliban-like personality and charm.
It wouldnt be Azzarello if there werent a few convoluted twists and turns before the typical not-happy-for-everyone end, but thats half the fun, agonizing as Orson is put through the mill by foe and faux-friend alike.