Friday, October 5, 2012

Review - Non-Humans #1

History tells us that there has always been discrimination for whatever reason. Race, sex, age...if it's a defining characteristic, it can be discriminated against. It's not likely that will change much in the future; what may change though is what's being discriminated against. Like inanimate objects in the four-issue miniseries Non-Humans #1 from Image Comics.

The first issue is written by Glen Brunswick, with art by Whilce Portacio, colors by Brian Valeza and letters by Rus Wooten.

In 2015, a strange virus arrived with a NASA probe that gives inanimate objects the ability to come to life. Fast forward 26 years later to 2041, where many of those inanimate objects want equal rights. That's the setting for the book, a future LA where Toy Story is real and angry about being discriminated against.

Detective Oliver Aimes is the series protagonist. He works for the LAPD and is contending with the death of his partner, a new partner in a non-human, an ex-wife who no longer loves him and a son who's in love with a non-human. Aimes is working the streets to uncover the ventriloquist doll who killed his partner.

Brunswick has taken an approach that simply drops the reader in the middle of all this and forces them to put it together. This is a very, very dense story, but it's nice that Brunswick doesn't hold your hand throughout. The first few pages easily could have been a nice recap of the world to this point, but it's more intriguing when the reader has to figure it out. If Aimes doesn't know everything about everything, why should the reader?

The premise itself is interesting as well. The virus apparently can affect humans as well, unless they take a special capsule of brain freeze during their teenage years to stave off the infection. There's one scene where a toy is brought to life and struggles with being blind. It's not until one of the other non-humans intervenes that he fully understands what the world he's part of is like.

That's where the story in Non-Humans #1 excels the most. There's this sense of belonging and fear that groups with a history of discrimination against feel. Even with laws in place to ease the discrimination, there's still this feeling of being an outsider. Brunswick makes the entire issue about the non-humans and humans co-existing, however reluctantly they may do so.

Portacio's art is terrifying at some points. And that's a good thing. Considering Brunswick has crafted a tale that Philip K. Dick would be proud of, Portacio really does a nice job making the non-humans good at making you feel uneasy. It's not until you continue reading that you feel guilty about being uneasy and realize why they would be angry about being discriminated against.

The setting in Non-Humans #1 is a grim and dystopian Los Angeles in the future, something Portacio captures very well. There's a lot of dark alleys and shady meeting points that litter the issue, really showing you what the world is like since the non-humans arrived. That's not to say they're to blame, but when you've got a teddy bear who's an informant running a drug trade, you'll have a tendency to be a little worried.

This is only a four-issue miniseries, so chances are the world inhabited by the characters won't be as fully fleshed out as it could be. The first issue does leave some things about the story a little fuzzy, forcing the reader to piece together the history for themselves. The issue is densely packed with Non-Humans mythos and should be an interesting and thought-provoking miniseries.

Non-Humans #1 is in stores now with interiors below.






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