Review: New Romancer #5

NEWROM_Cv5_dsFive issues in, and writer Peter Milligan and artist Brett Parson’s New Romancer continues to be a hot mess of a comic. Milligan can’t seem to develop any one of the four or five storylines at any kind of emotionally satisfying level, but he does land a few good moments along the way. There is the relationship between Lexy and her dad as he begins to regret tampering with her brain as Mata Hari holds him half naked to a cactus, and Lexy also gets to geek out about her all-time idol Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer and the daughter of Lord Byron, as she meets in some weird cyber zone. Casanova also continues to be irritatingly entertaining as a villain even though his scenes are stiffed in favor of the one note corporate head of Lexy’s dad’s old company, Incubator, Angel Beaufort. I guess she represents cold logic and profit compared to the art and romance of Lexy, but it isn’t clear if they’re foils or not.

Parson’s art and Brian Miller’s color continue to be standout parts of New Romancer, and it’s the same in issue 5 with Miller having fun showing the effects of Casanova’s love drug on Lexy. She has incredibly creepy green tinged fantasies and luckily it’s over after a page thanks to Lord Byron draining his power vampire style. And from slime green, Miller can transition to the orange desert sunset where Lexy’s dad is being held hostage by Mata Hari or to the softer green of cyberspace. New Romancer is a colorful book, and Parson’s art is filled with lively and sometimes funny facial expressions like Casanova messing around with his one eye.

And the book finally gets a little sexy as Lexy seduces Lord Byron with his own poetry and goes from being in a daze to all over him. Unfortunately, this is in service of yet another plot point, and by the end of the issue, Lexy is back to pondering how the real man Byron is different from the one she idealized. This is nice and all, but they don’t really discuss it as the end of the issue turns into the climax of Hackers if you replaced mid-1990s cyberpunk fashion with Aladdin Sane David Bowie and actual New Romantics fashion. (Think Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet etc)

Unfortunately, the momentum built through the flirting between Lexy and Lord Byron and her strained relationship with her father all but comes to a halt by the end of New Romancer #5 as the plot gets caught up in a wave of double crosses, hostage situations, and technobabble. And the cliffhanger is yet another showdown between Lexy and Casanova, but this is one will maybe be better because the first arc of the comic is ending. New Romancer was a comic with some fun ideas, like combining Romantic poetry and online dating, performing a feminist critique on Lord Byron from his number one fan, and even the inclusion of Casanova as a villain, but it’s really run out of steam towards the end of its first arc even if Parson and Miller’s art is still fun to look at.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Brett Parson Colors: Brian Miller
Story: 5.0 Art: 7 Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass