Friday, February 17, 2012

Existence 2.0/3.0

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Ron Salas and Joe Eisma

I had felt like I'd missed the boat by not buying Nick Spencer's debut mini-series Existence 2.0.  At the time that it started coming out, I obviously didn't know the man's name, and while the concept sounded interesting, the art didn't do anything to grab my attention.  By the time the sequel came along, I was starting to read some of Spencer's other books, such as Forgetless (which is awesome) and Shuddertown (which isn't, but started out very well), but I wasn't going to dive into a project in the middle.

This trade collects both the 2.0 and 3.0 stories, and it is interesting to read as an artifact of a now very popular writer's genesis.  Which, I guess, is another way of saying that it's not very good.  The first mini is pretty decent, actually.  It's about a scientist who has developed a conscious-transfer device, and when he is assassinated, he uses it to jump into his killer's body.  This works well, especially when the scientist is enjoying life in the new body.  Like he's doing with The Infinite Vacation (which is on semi-infinite hiatus, it seems), Spencer takes some time to explore some of the ramifications of this technology, and looks at it from a social and individualistic perspective.  As for how the device works, there is no explanation beyond showing people pointing a cell-phone sized device at the person they 'jump' to.

The thriller movie aspects of the first mini, which involve mafia backers, work out okay, and Spencer goes for a big emotional pay-off in the end.  Had he stopped there, this would have been a debut he could be pleased with, but for some reason, the decision was made to return to this story with the 3.0 sequel, which is awful.  The plot makes no sense.  The survivors from the first mini are being chased by henchmen for some CEO with a split personality disorder that causes him to walk around his office in women's underwear.  I honestly could not keep anything straight here, and quickly found that I didn't care.

The art in this book is problematic as well.  The 2.0 story looks better than the sequel, but not by much.  Ron Salas provides most of the art, and is joined at the end of the book by Spencer's Morning Glories collaborator Joe Eisma. Had I not read that on the cover, I never would have guessed it.  Much of this book looks rushed and poorly-rendered (except for a cool action sequence that is split between two different times at the beginning of 3.0). 

In all, this book is a disappointment.

No comments: