Review: Empty Zone #3
The concept of the cyborg is a relatively new one in the medium of comics. While the mixture of man and machine can be traced back to the infancy of comics with the likes of Robotman (introduced in 1942), the true melding of man and machine did not become popular until the 1970s, with the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. With an increasing interest in the concept, thanks also to the Terminator film series in the 1980s, comic creators started to incorporate aspects of cybernetics into superheroes, although there has arguably never been a real success in the medium. Both Deathlok from Marvel and Cyborg from DC Comics are the most successful cyborgs, but they also have struggled to remain popular at times, even if they are relatively prominent at the moment in the mainstream medium. Empty Zone has shown a different take on cyborgs, one closer to the counter culture idea of cyberpunk than to that of superheroes. In this series the main character Corrine is a courier, only one with a dark past and she is not sure of what she is presently carrying, a bundle of electronic information that some are willing to kill for.
In this issue Corrine must travel to some cybernetic experts to replace her arm, an arm which as she described has to be rudimentary in design because it serves as a reminder of who she is. In so doing she descends into sleep, but it a different sense as she is shown to do so almost electronically, looking at her visions through a monitor. She discovers that the visions are not her own, but rather the visions of the man that rescued her from poverty to make her into what she is. The second half of the issue is one without much dialogue, and instead focuses on two somewhat random events, first a street fight and then a sex scene.
There are some inherent problems with such a stylistic concept, and they are evident in this third issue. While the series and this issue are well designed to display the depth to which society has descended, it does so without an adequate character to guide them, and thus the reader gets lost. The character herself is one which is enticing, but the writers have given so little about her to identify with, that it is equally hard to like her. When there seems to be a breakout in her background, the creative team throws the reader some more confusion with the mostly out-of-place street fight and the even more out-of-place sex scene. It is a brave concept, but the execution is not there as basic elements of storytelling are missing.
Story and Art: Jason Shawn Alexander
Story: 6.3 Art: 6.3 Overall: 6.3 Recommendation: Pass
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.