"The Blackening #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Amigo Comics
Written by Massimo Rosi
Illustrated by Eduardo Mello
Colored by Anelli
Lettered by Monkey Typers
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on January 2nd, 2019
In the year 2049, people are more machine than human. A virus nearly wiped out mankind and scientists created new cybernetic bodies to allow us to keep living. Anthony was living a peaceful life with his husband Luke and daughter Skye. That all changed one night when he came home to find Luke's body torn to pieces and Skye missing. The cops are trying to help, but the case has been turned over to the Epicuros Division, a group that tends to ignore the human side of the equation.
The Blackening presents a frightening world where we can live forever, but we're losing our humanity with each passing day. Anthony could heal from this tragedy. His memory could be wiped and he could completely forget his family. That's certainly one way to deal with grief, but is it the right way?
There's a caste system at work in The Blackening, with each type of cybernetic body fulfilling a certain role. They all seem to make way for the Epicuros. They've fully embraced the machine side, appearing more like robots shaped like people than anything else. They have no flesh, just cold, metal faces that stare unblinking at whomever they're interrogating. Even their voices are metallic. Letterer Monkey Typers uses a mechanical font for their speech to further show their inhumanity.
Artist Eduardo Mello's designs for the characters run across the spectrum from almost-human to totally robotic. When the comic starts, Anthony looks like a normal person. When you see him in a t-shirt and shorts, you notice the strange lines in his limbs, joining his body together like an action figure. Detective Arnhem is somewhere in the middle, with a human face and cybernetic eyes.
There's a definite noir feel to The Blackening, brought on by Anelli's colors. This mixed with the sci-fi elements creates an interesting mash-up of genres as we dig into the story. There are times where you can almost forget you're reading a book set in the future as Anthony looks deeper into this case and then you're confronted with neon greens and pinks.
Writer Massimo Rossi has crafted a hard-boiled sci-fi tale that's as unsettling as it is intriguing. It's very reminiscent of Blade Runner in both style and tone, which is certainly not a bad thing. The Blackening drops us seamlessly into this creepy future world full of equal parts possibility and despair.