In Review: Volition #1

This is a dream for fans of science fiction: robots, mystery, and sumptuous visuals.

The covers: Several artificials stand in several lines, their destination not shown. The room is dark, with fiery red lights behind them in the floor. All the robots are looking forward, save a large yellow and orange robot in the foreground and a female humanoid robot in the next line. Both of these creations are looking at the reader, warning them they’re seeing something they shouldn’t. These two characters, Hale-19 and Amber 7T are the leads of this book and this is a great A cover by Omar Francia, the interior artist and colorist, to tease the stars. Very subtle, very cool. I love seeing different designs of robots and this makes me very happy. The protagonists get a cover to themselves on the B by Chris Evenhuis. Colored in striking pale yellows and tans, Amber puts up her hand to ward off the spotlight that’s found both of them. Hale-19 has his arm wrapped protectively around her. I love this cover as well for the tone it strikes and the tease that this pair is trying to avoid being found. Overall grades: A A+ and B A

The story: In the year 2128, Amber-7T is brought online by Doctor Khitri. She is a humanoid looking robot, the “child” of Mark-7 and Vera-4T. Her father helps her up, as walking is initially a little tricky, and shows her a view of the city of Chicago. She looks outside and says with a smile, “It’s…luminous. It’s…perfection. But…we can do better.” This is a neat introduction to the lead character by writer Ryan Parrott. The next four pages give a history of artificial intelligence, created by Dr. Elizabeth Traymor, and how robots eventually got their rights for independence. However, artificials began to struggle for survival, as newer models created outdated forms of life, plus a “‘consciousness decaying’ computer virus” named Rust is destroying the machines. Some believe that Traymor can cure Rust, but she’s disappeared. The story then moves to downtown Chicago at night and introduces the other protagonist, Hale-19, who’s involved in a very questionable act. What follows is a short but cool action sequence and then the story moves to the Virtual Heart Hospital and Artificial Care Facility where Amber-7T works. At this location the premise for this series is introduced and it’s a good one. The last three pages are very interesting, with the final page a solid cliffhanger. I love robots and it’s nice to read a story where they’re not comedic. Yeah, Aftershock has got me on board for another series. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals of this book, created by Omar Francia, who does the line work and the coloring, are really stunning. I love seeing highly detailed art for futuristic societies and Francia is creating wonders. The first page shows Amber-7T’s first sights after being activated. It’s a neat point of view and a great way to have the reader instantly bond with the character. On the next two pages the artificial’s parents are shown and the world of Chicago is revealed. It is fantastic! The look of joy on Amber’s face in the final panel on 3 is perfection. The four pages that follow use images to sum up the history of A.I. and it’s good; highlights include the final panel on 5 and all of 7. I really like how Rust is shown to the reader, as the visual perfectly captures the threat and evil of what this virus is. The sequence that begins on Page 8 starts too darkly and ends too darkly. There are several panels where things are clearly seen, but there are just too many where it’s difficult to see what’s occurring. My hat’s off to Francia for making this unreal situation real, but some cheating with the reality of the hour could have been done and still maintained the evening. Also there’s no clean image of Hale-19 until Page 13’s final panel. This is a good place to have him clearly shown to the reader, but had he been shown more clearly in the earlier pages the reader could have bonded to him sooner. The final seven pages of the book are very good, with the artificial on 15 being very sympathetic and then very frightening. The tease atop 17 is outstanding. The penultimate page has got a good visual jump and the last page contains the perfect image to end the issue. I’m very impressed with Francia’s work on this book, so much so that I wanted to see all of it clearly. I would love to see the visuals for this book in a larger format simply to see more of the details he’s created. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Marshall Dillon creates this issue’s dialogue, scene settings and chapter titles (the same font), narration, sounds, a Rusted artificial’s speech, and yells. I was really impressed with the scene settings and chapter titles because of their bold look, seeming as though they were stamped out by a machine. Normally I express disappointment when both forms of text employ the same font, but I don’t here because it reinforces the mechanical tone of book, which is perfect for a book about robots. The narration is different from the dialogue, a choice I always prefer from letterers. The sounds are very cool, with the alarm on one page visually resembling how I would expect this noise to look. The most enjoyable lettering of the book is from the old robot at the end of the book: its speech was visually ancient and broken. I like what Dillon has done. Overall grade: A 

The final line: This is a very polished introduction to this world which has an amazing amount of depth. The robotic leads are very engaging and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when these two finally meet. The visuals are incredibly detailed, bringing this incredible world to life spectacularly. The visuals are so good, I’d love to see this collected in a larger format so that all of the details could be more easily examined. This is a dream for fans of science fiction: robots, mystery, and sumptuous visuals. AfterShock Comics continues to show it’s a leader in world building books. Overall grade: A 

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Volition-1/digital-comic/691252

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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