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Review: New Romancer #4

NewRomancer4The sides have been set, and the war for love rages on in New Romancer #4 as Lexy comes to terms with her genetically engineered past while dodging the forces of both Casanova and Mata Hari, who wants to resurrect her lover Marcel’s mind in Lord Byron’s mind. And the head of Incubator, who can’t feel emotions, wants to use Lord Byron’s grasp over human emotional topology to perfect artificial intelligence. Peter Milligan’s plot is pretty ambitious, and he is spinning a lot of plates, but to his credit, doesn’t drop them all thanks to his handle on Lord Byron’s occasionally blunt, occasionally poetic voice and by continuing to make Lexy the emotional crux of the story. However, sometimes she gets drowned out by cuts to storylines, including a nearly creepy flashback where it’s insinuated that her dad genetically engineered The story rushes so quickly that is hard to see exactly where they stand though.

Colorist Brian Miller excels at showing a romantic evening gone bad as the soft pinks around Lord Byron and Lexy at their first date is replaced with the gross green of a fart cloud because Byron hasn’t eaten in centuries. Then, he goes sepia toned for a flashback showing Lexy’s mom berating her husband for being sexist and not letting her go on a scientific expedition to study lightning during a storm. (And another great Frankenstein parallel from Milligan and company.) Brett Parson’s art is filled with slaps, pistol whipping, flashes of lightning, and almost kisses and Miller continues to help his pencils and inks crackle with energy. A lot of comedy in New Romancer hinges on quick reversals, and Parson is definitely game for that switching from Byron mooning over the head of Incubator before she whips out her gun with a side of speed lines. And he gives Byron a super hilarious outfit towards end of the issue

The chase scenes, the flashback with Lexy and her family, and even Byron’s attempts to hit on the Incubator head all pale compared to the opening of New Romancer #4 when Lexy suddenly is less sure she is in love with Byron. He sees women as inferior to men, says all his poems are a fake persona, and his idea of a romantic one-liner is asking Lexy if she wants to “rut”. Plus his weight fluctuates because historically Lord Byron had weight issues and exercised in seven shirts to shed pounds. He might actually be a gross, creepy person, and Lexy starts to have second thoughts about pursuing a romance with him that all gets complicated by the last few pages of the issue. And in its own cartoonish, over-the-top way, Milligan and Parson give readers a mix of the old “don’t meet your heroes” idea with the sad fact that sometimes people come off better online (or on online dating sites) than in person with their awkwardness and odors. Also, obsessing over and idealizing a human being can lead to bad consequences.

Peter Milligan burns through a lot of plot in New Romancer #4 as Lexy, Byron, her dad, and crew at New Romancer are beset on all sides by the CEO of Incubator, Mata Hari, and Casanova, who basically just wants to watch the world burn. He starts to lay the road for the first arc’s endgame, but everything is very much in the air. This is definitely a comic that I read for the flair of the character’s voices, the adorableness and unfortunate optimism of its protagonist, Lexy, and the energy and humor of Brett Parson’s art rather than its overarching storyline.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Brett Parson Colors: Brian Miller
Story: 6.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.3 Recommendation: Read