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‘Retcon, Vol. 1: Reverse Engineered’ (review)

Written by Matt Nixon
Illustrated by Toby Cypress
Published by Image Comics

 

“We have been here before. Not precisely this way of course, but when you collapse realities by resetting the past, things get very messy.”

That quote from around the middle of Retcon Volume One, which collects the first four issues of the recent Image comic, pretty well sums the whole thing up.

Retcon is a story you have to think about and pay close attention to and even then, you may end up having to go back and re-read sections as you go. I did.

The cover is no help. It, like the book itself, is messy and makes not a lick of sense until after one has already read the book…and even then not that much! It is striking, though, with muted reds and blues and shades of a silvery grey.

Not thrilled with the tough to read logo. It’s credited to Sal Cipriano. Sorry, Sal.

Toby Cypress is our artist throughout except for a couple specialty pieces. There’s no separate colorist credit so I’m going to presume it’s all Cypress.

Here is yet another artist with whose work I was not previously familiar. I quite like it, though, even over and above the story he’s helping tell with it. I detect lots of possible influences as far as comics art, but I’m not going to mention them because none really stand out to me and they may not even really be there. Toby may have come by his style just naturally.

Either way, what a style! The exciting scenes have a frenetic energy that purposely utilizes the artist’s abstractions while the talking heads in exposition scenes make splendid use of design and color to keep from slowing things down.

The messy story that all of this artistic effort goes toward telling comes from sometime Wolverine writer Matt Nixon. Nixon clearly thinks visually and Cypress is able to enhance those visual ideas.

Plotwise…it’s complicated. Let’s just say that there’s this entity that’s out to destroy humanity and there’s a man who controls—but doesn’t really understand—the powers of a demon imprisoned inside him since he was a baby, and this man, along with the help of some interdimensional beings, is out to stop the entity…again. You see, they’ve tried several times already and failed.

Each time they have to reset, reality starts from scratch and everything proceeds the same up to a given point. Each time, our protagonist has to have all this explained to him and each time the mysterious tattooed witch who in essence created him pushes him to make the effort. Maybe this time. Maybe this reality.

There’s monsters and cool special effects that could only be done justice in a comic book. There’s thought-provoking dialogue, intriguing and original characters, and a marvelous premise that allows for a number of variations on a theme.

Well-written, well-drawn, and certainly not something you’ve seen a thousand times before…even if the characters in the story have.

Booksteve recommends.

 

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