Here’s something to do on a quiet evening alone, you know, with the kids asleep and the wife snuggled up on the other end of the couch with her iPad, her face aglow with the shiny promise of Pinterest pins: pick a pair of authors and imagine a literary love affair–one that results in some form of fictional offspring, which you’d describe in great detail, of course, to yourself, of course, because the wife is still busy pinning away on her end of the couch. Let’s try a quick, not-at-all random round: What kind of child would result from the objectively insane coupling of notorious party girl Ayn Rand and futurist Casanova Philip K. Dick? She’d be special, that’s for sure; and she’d have a hell of a story to tell–one probably a lot like New Worlds Comics’ Wynter #1, a thought-provoking and visually stunning sci-fi spectacle from writer Guy Hasson and artist Aron Elekes.
Liz Wynter, the teenaged protagonist of this data-driven dystopian vision, is herself driven by a singular desire: to be an individual–to be special–in a world that is coded to corral such wayward thoughts, with the powers-that-be wielding drugs and ubiquitous technology as means to achieve their soul-crushing end. She spends the entirety of the issue wandering the city with a Holden-esque compass, wondering where she might find that sliver of self amongst the oppressive numbers spouted out unsympathetically by the voice in her head, the aptly named Liz, a con of a conscience, a rewired superego meant to keep her in check, to keep her thinking she’s like everyone else, thus making her just like everyone else–not unlike the devices heaped upon Harrison Bergeron, the doomed hero of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story of the same name. Hasson’s hitting familiar notes makes Liz an easy character to root for, even if she is as cold as her name implies. See: we instinctively know that the thaw will come as the Promethean flame born of an unbridled ego burns through the layers of ice that have frozen her will; and the final reveal–timed just right–clearly provides the spark that’ll set the tinder alight.
Bringing it all together, lifting the story from the effectively familiar to the level of something special, is Elekes’ digitally painted art, which, from page one, captures the prevailing tone of shadowy dissatisfaction and, at the same time, serves up a certain sensuousness, with specially affected textures–seen specifically in the folds of Liz’s loyal red scarf–that transcend the page. If I’m comparing–and I most assuredly am–Elekes’ figures remind of Fiona Staples’ (Saga), just with considerably more depth; and I can’t help but think of Clayton Crain’s fully-painted work on Rai, which, while unquestionably beautiful, suffers–as Wynter does–from being much too static, a shade too stiff. Ekeles’ makes up for it, though, with his layouts, which inject some energy into the narrative, especially as he, at times, emphatically eschews traditional paneling and, by doing so, puts a premium on every page turn.
One page turn, however, left me shaking my head in disappointment. I mean, I don’t want to make a federal case out of it, but I was immediately taken out of the story during a brief courtroom scene in which the well-rendered countenance of a celebrity judge makes an unexpected–and unwelcome–appearance. No, really: it’s quite shocking! I’m sure it’s meant to be silly, to bring some levity to an otherwise dour story; but considering the effectiveness of the dourness, in particular, I have to object!
What I can’t object to is what Wynter as a whole brings to the table–err, tablet: a compelling main character, who is both familiar and relatable, and a unique visual experience that isn’t too soon forgotten. With that as my takeaway, I’m definitely down for another issue. In fact, if I had a Pinterest account, I’d pin the damn thing, without hesitation, to a board dedicated to independent comics that happen to get it right.
And my wife, who just so happens to be under a blanket at the other end of the couch, her face very much blanched by the bright light of her iPad, is undoubtedly pinning another recipe that she’ll never bother to attempt to her “Too Foodilicious for Ya Babe” board.
Want to read Wynter #1? Find it on Comixology here.
Visit newworldscomics.com for more information.