Review - Arcadia #1

"...I'm going to turn you into light."

Humans thrive on being social. There are some out there who enjoy being alone, but generally there's an innate desire amongst humans to interact with one another with some frequency. Stripping away the physical interaction may or may not have an impact on humanity's general condition, but it's something BOOM! Studios wants to explore in Arcadia #1. The issue is written by Alex Paknadel, illustrated by Eric Scott Pfeiffer and lettered by Colin Bell.

When 99% of humankind is wiped out by a pandemic, four billion people are “saved” by being digitized at the brink of death and uploaded into Arcadia, a utopian simulation in the cloud. But when Arcadia begins to rapidly deplete the energy resources upon which the handful of survivors in the real world (aka “The Meat”) depends, how long will The Meat be able—and willing—to help?

The current state of things in Arcadia #1 is nothing short of dire on multiple fronts. Paknadel's interpretation of "post-apocalyptic" is uploading human souls into Arcadia and allowing them to live lives in the cloud, despite the rapidly dwindling resources on hand required to power such an endeavor. Paknadel manages to make Arcadia #1 a lot more than just fighting for physical survival, packing in some more philosophical ideas such what Arcadia citizens feel in Arcadia. There's presumably a massive disconnect between emotions as a human and emotions as a digitized human, both of which Paknadel explores in some detail in the first issue. That dichotomy looks to serve as the backbone of the series itself, with characters questioning whether or not they made the right choice in digitization.

Illustrating the brave new world in Arcadia #1 is Pfeiffer, whose work is largely a solid portrayal of a digital world. There are instances where character face structures are a little too pronounced or not detailed enough; in both instances, it's a little difficult to fully grasp the expected emotion they're experiencing. Additionally, some panels demonstrate some wonky scaling in terms of limbs in relation to the person's body. Colors live primarily on the muted side of the spectrum snd sometimes bleed together in a way that makes discerning characters from the backgrounds a little difficult. Despite these slight issues, Pfeiffer's work excels at adding a moodiness to the story, grounding it in a nightmare scenario where humans lose the characteristics that best define us as such.

Arcadia #1 is a pretty heady mix between preserving humanity and our commitment to technology. Fans of works such as The Matrix or Psycho Pass will find a lot to sink their teeth into here, as the notion of a living computer running the show so to speak is definitely a fascinating one. Paknadel looks to be delving into some pretty deep territory as far as human survival goes, offering up a tale where many humans are willing to sacrifice their corporeal existence for something digitally ethereal. Pfeiffer's illustrations fill the pages with interesting looking characters and an array of panel layouts, all of which help to tell Paknadel's story. Arcadia #1 posits that humanity will cast aside worries about living digitally if it means they get to live period.

Arcadia #1 is in stores now with interiors below.