Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Think of Alloy 618 as a key, a harmless tool... capable of unlocking the universe itself. There are even early indications of medical benefits to mankind. The future is limitless. Alloy 618 opens many doors, gentlemen. Today the bead in your hand will open a black hole and hold it open... for as long as we dare to play chicken with nature."
Six hundred pages of weapons-grade thriller in which one poor woman's body has bonded with the remains of a brand-new bomb: an alloy now semi-sentient, housing the consciousness of physicist Annie who'd been test-piloting the beta suit only to be betrayed by its developers. They shot it clean out of the sky. One explosion later and the sky hails down a biting rain of tiny metallic beads which stick to Julie's bare skin and won't come off. Instead they merge like mercury into a chestplate which doesn't react kindly to anyone else's touch.
Now those same developers allied with US military want their Phi Project back, and they're not the only ones hot on Julie's trail: there's a vicious old man with the Bible in his mouth, and a piece of the same puzzle on his hands, determined to destroy the metal on Julie's chest -- and her along with it.
"Ivy, what's your take on Cain?"
"I think he's a crazy guy with a tattoo on his face. And if you're looking for a Biblical link, you're out of luck."
"Because our Cain is white."
"Adam and Eve were black."
"What?! The Bible doesn't say that."
"I know. Doesn't say they weren't, either. Which is a point in its favour, actually. But, if you're going to claim all the people on the planet came from one pair, then simple genetics dictates that pair had to be black. No other combination can produce the variations we have today, but a black pair can produce all the basic types in just seven generations."
"You're talking about race?"
"I'm talking about science. Race is an offensive 18th Century idea."
With the help of Annie's boyfriend Dillon and his band of bikers, Julie has successfully evaded everyone, but now it just gets hot - 109 degrees in the Nevada desert - and uglier than Dillon may be prepared to put up with. Their last chance is Ivy Raven, the field agent with formidable tracking power originally hired by HeNRI, who's growing increasingly disillusioned with her employers' deception, but there's absolutely no guarantee that her guarantees of safety are genuine or even practicable.
As they slowly begin to learn the true extent of corporate intent and the mathematics behind it, those in the know and willing to speak out about the lethal ramifications of Alloy 618 are being silenced - and we're not talking about gagging orders. Boyfriend will kill boyfriend if he knows too much, and a new monster arises to seek retribution, its lower jaw missing.
I don't know why anyone should be surprised at the violence here - the things Terry put Katchoo and co. through in STRANGERS IN PARADISE were pretty damn harsh. He also has a great grasp of forensics when it comes to Ivy Raven, as tender a line as ever when it comes to Julie's traumatised face, and the thick-set build of his lead biker Dan is so well captured that I wished he'd once done a portrait of Mark!
Two last words, SiP readers: Tambi, Casey. It's the same world, yes.
Black and white cover gallery with sketches in the back.