What’s black and white and red all over? This harrowing revenge piece that blends globalization anxiety and the Sino-American struggle for global dominance with acute violence and technology run amuck.
Debut creators Roman and DeWeese use the teachings of the ancient Chinese general, Sun Tzu, as the foundation for an epic dystopian story of brotherly love and corporate greed set in a nightmarish American wasteland circa 2032. Our nominal hero, Kelly Roman, has come home from the military prison where he served time for a friendly-fire incident that has scarred him body and soul. Worse, Kelly discovers that his brother, Shane, has died in the service of a resurrected Sun Tzu, whose mastery of warfare now extends into a heavily armed global financial market controlled by his company, Trench. To get things started, Trench’s human resources manager neatly snips off Kelly’s hands just to prove that he won’t succumb in battle. (Lots of things get sewn back on in the future, apparently.) In Manhattan, Kelly mentors under Sun Tzu and clashes with the general’s daughter, Qing, all while maneuvering against a mysterious competitor, Vespoid, whose leader, The Prince, competes fiercely against Trench. There are also enough sci-fi high-concept ideas to fill a kitchen sink, from genetically-engineered soldiers to militarized black holes to the integration of insect biotech to produce more accurate algorithms. Much like James O’Barr’s bestselling graphic novel The Crow, the art here is purposefully rough, incendiary and ugly at times, with a provocative style that dares readers to keep flipping to the end. It would fit in well with the likes of Vertigo’s Army @ Love or even the black-and-white visions of Brian Michael Bendis’ Torso or Goldfish graphic novels, but there’s something about the immediacy and volume of the single narrative that lends this martial nightmare a little something extra.
A bold, messy conflagration that revels in all of the trespasses and heroism of which only human beings are truly capable.