Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Private Eye #1

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Marcos Martin

The easiest way to get me to overcome my dislike of reading comics on my computer?  Tell me that there's a new digital-only series by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin.  Want to sweeten the deal even more?  Tell me that it's being offered as a 'pay what you can' purchase.

The Private Eye, available here, is a pretty excellent comic.  Vaughan posits a world where the Internet has been abandoned after everyones' personal information was made available to everyone, causing bankruptcies, divorces, and a ton of embarrassment.  In this future, everyone has become so concerned with their privacy that they wear disguises whenever they leave their homes.  Some of these disguises are mundane, making a person just look like another person, while others wear elaborate costumes (one guy has a fish face) or expensive holographic rigs to hide their true faces.

In this environment, which is explained very naturally over the course of the issue, we meet a PI, also called a Paparazzi, in this world where the 4th Estate has some sort of policing role, who specializes in uncovering peoples' real identities.  At the beginning of the issue he is staking out a young woman, photographing her real face for a man who has been in love with her since high school.

Later, he is asked by a woman with a tiger face, to investigate her background, as she is applying for one of the few jobs which require a background security check.  Of course, there's a lot more going on with her than what the PI is told, but this is just the first issue, so we don't know what that's going to be yet.

Vaughan takes a slow, organic approach to explaining how things work in this world.  Most of the issue leaves us in the dark, until the PI has to talk to his senile grandfather, who clearly used to be a hipster when he was younger (i.e., in our time).  The PI, who sometimes goes by the code-name Patrick Immelmann, is an interesting character.  He has quite the collection of memorabilia, and is shown reading Joseph Heller. Martin shows us around his office, where books by Barack Obama and Henry Miller share prominence with Freakonomics.

Martin is always an exciting artist, although he is only given one opportunity to cut loose in an early chase sequence.  Still, this is a visually exciting comic, and I'm very pleased by the fact that there are nine more instalments to come.  Go check this out - and make sure you throw some money the creators' way.

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