Review: The Tomorrows TPB

the-tomorrowsThe first “pages” of The Tomorrows TPB starts with some missives, rescue pleas, and a de facto mission statement. Instead of taking a few issues to get the reader into the story, Curt Pires uses a few pages of “found intel” to lure us in and the first couple of pages of panels to seal the deal. The one-two punch makes the reader feel like they’re part of the characters world. I found myself already invested and curious before I saw the first panel.

The set up for world presented in The Tomorrows is a bleak one, at least for us artists, creators, philosophers, and dreamers. In the world of the Tomorrows, I would be among those slated for death. If you’re like me and missed out on the first six issues of this series, this recently released trade paperback will catch you up and get you hooked on this world with little hope.

We are first introduced to Zoey, an artist in a world where the penalty for creating is death. She is lamenting a loss when Toshiro Mifune having sex with David Bowie aka Death in a Denim Jacket (not his real; name but, that’s how he introduces himself and it sounds way cooler than Claudius) barges in and saves her from these metal octa legged death robot/human hybrids. It’s one hell of a start to a very promising series. We meet our reluctant and poetically bad ass heroes and watch them ride off into the moonlight to safety on a more bad ass version of the Tron bike. Without a second, or panel to breathe, we also get to meet our villains, Atlas, Mr. Hughes and his pet project Icarus. Nothing good ever comes from clandestine corporations, corporate types in all white suits and secret projects that they can’t wait to get off the ground.

It’s one hell of a start to a very promising series. We meet our reluctant and poetically bad ass heroes and watch them ride off into the moonlight to safety on a more bad ass version of the Tron bike. Without a second, or panel to breathe, we also get to meet our villains, Atlas, Mr. Hughes, and his pet project Icarus. Nothing good ever comes from clandestine corporations, corporate types in all white suits and secret projects that they can’t wait to get off the ground.

The first ten pages of this comic are better than some novels making the rounds these days. I wasn’t even halfway through the first issue in the series and I was already all in. The end of the first issue in this collection gave me pure fire. We got to meet the rest of the Claudius’s team, Sasha and Jiro, and got some sass and tech details from their super computer Warhol. There was cyber terrorism and actual terrorism via some bomb-laden server destruction. The Tomorrows are a cross between artistic terrorists and every member of phase two of Fight Club.

We got to see the Tomorrows get kidnapped, Zoey crash in on a hyberbike to save them and we got to read Hughes monologuing.  I was on the fence about the almost murder of Hughes during the rescue. Claudius stopped himself, which means that he’ll be back and more determined to wipe the Tomorrows out. But, this is a comic book and even if you have a face to face with the big baddy, you shan’t kill them because the story would end. I found myself glad and troubled that Hughes made it out of issue #1 alive, glad because there would be more to this story and to this bleak world the characters existed in and sad because I’m tired of people not killing the obvious bad guy when they have a chance. Why come back Claudius? You had a chance to kill TechHitler, you should have done it. Jason Copeland‘s art in issue #1 was basic and I don’t mean that as a dig, I mean that it was just enough to match the story. It was bleak, minimalist and dry. The visuals matched the story we were reading, the panels were a part of the story and they never broke character.

Alexis Zaritt‘s art in issue 2 was a bit off putting. It was unfortunately basic in a bad way. Everything was undefined and kind of blobish. It wasn’t pretty to look at, which was a bummer because , issue two was a series of flashbacks, action sequences and a suicide with very little dialogue or descriptions. We got to see that in the aftermath of this new world order, Brazil had an uprising in the Favellas and the Brazilian lower class took their country back and created a safe zone, with music and a killer DIY culture. There was so much that could have been to showcase this “safe zone”. Hughes did not make an appearance in issue #2 which made me wonder about how bad it was about to get when I turned the page and headed into issue #3.

Issue #3 rocked my world! There was a cell phone game update that turned kids and tweens into murder monsters and we got to visit Japan and see the evil mastermind behind their version of the Atlas Corp. We got to see a battle royal style fight in the rain and a kid straight up murder his mom at a bus stop. We also got to meet the bad ass Asian contingent of the Tomorrows. Ian MacEwan provided the artwork for this issue and it fell somewhere on the spectrum right between Issue #1 and Issue #2. Since there was more going on conversation and story wise the art glitches weren’t as jarring as they were in issue #2 because there were so many other things to take in and that added equally to the story.

The next issue in this TPB opened with what looked like the human version of the Ice King, which gave me shivers. It should have given me shivers because this was not a regular issue. This was an origin story. The story of how the Tomorrows came to be. Ice King is none other than Aldous Ellis, the man who along with the love of his life Edie, brought the Tomorrows together. We get to see how each original brick got added to the wall and watch his murder at the behest of Hughes. We learn why Claudius needs and wants revenge. The artwork in this one was done by Andrew MacLane and it was like a visual newsletter, which worked for this particular issue. It was more of a propaganda piece for the good guys and any other style would have been a stark contrast to what was going on.

Issue #5 shook me a little bit. The plot line in this issue went from being Fight Club-esque to being straight up Matrix. Someone has been creating alternate worlds and playing out the outcomes in the final showdown between the Tomorrows and Hughes and Co. By the end of this issue I was wondering if Hughes was a Hugo Weaving spin off and trying to figure out if Aldous or Claudius was Neo. The artwork was basic but, telling and there was more story here than in issue #2. This issue also included a bonus sex scene which I would have called unnecessary except for the fact the writer and artist made a female orgasm a huge event and it’s so rare for any form of male-created media to center on female sexual needs that I actually applaud the multi-page sex scene. I was also pleased that the sex scene wasn’t all boobs and male gratification. It felt more like an integral part of the story, because sex does happen, and, there wasn’t even a hint of it being a gratuitous act or plot add on. This issue also had a lot of philosophical musings on what made humans, humans which fit nicely into the story, especially when the characters 919 versions stood over their 2014 bodies.

The conclusion of this arc and the last issue in this TP tied things up in exactly the way they get tied up in the real world, with some straggly ends at the tip, begging for you to pick some more, to look deeper and to enjoy the frailty. We got to watch the Tomorrows fight their evil clone counterparts. We got to see what Hughes actually did to Edie and why Claudius didn’t and couldn’t kill him when he had the chance. We also found out that Hughes isn’t just trying to bring about an Apocalypse he wants to bring about THE Apocalypse. It’s all fun and fighting games until someone releases a parasitic cloud into Earth’s atmosphere and true love reigned supreme when Claudius broke whatever spell Hughes put Edie under to bring her over to the dark nihilist side. In the nick of time using a source code rewrite and some life hacking skills, Zoey and Claudius save the whole damn world. But, you know it isn’t over, it was all way too easy. The artwork fit in well with the story and gave us loads of dark side , light side mirror images to deal with.

Overall , this was a good read, I think issue #2’s art setback was only so jarring because of the issues that preceded and followed it. It was a place holder issue but, I felt that if we were going to have a panel heavy, bubble light, issue more time should have been spent on making those panels as tight as possible. But, in the grander scheme of this, since every other issue was so on point I can overlook it as a sophomore slump. I kept waiting for things to swing around and make issue #2 important and /or an integral part of the story but, that moment never came. I think the who arc could have survived without issue two, or maybe they could have spread it over the remaining five issues. Other than that small bump in the road, I though The Tomorrows was a great read and a solid series. I can’t wait to see more and I hope there will be many more issues to come. There are so many angles to take and story lines to follow and a battle royal between the bourgeois and the artists is something I think would be great to see.

Story: Curt Pires Art: Jason Copeland #1, Alexis Zaritt #2, Ian MacEwan Issue #3, Andrew MacLane #4, Liam Cobb #5, Kevin Zeigler #6
Story: 9.7 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review