Review - Read Only Memories #1 (@IDWPublishing)

"...working nights is definitely part of the job description."

Robots always make for interesting stories. In Read Only Memories #1 from IDW Publishing, robots also make for interesting emotional sparring partners. "Valentine's Day" is written by Sina Grace, illustrated by Stefano Simeone and lettered by Christa Miesner. "Mermaids Don't Cry" is written by Mark Kenney, illustrated by Christina Antoinette and Neofotistou and lettered by Miesner.

Santa Cruz, California. A beach town just 50 miles from Neo-San Francisco. Lexi Rivers, former detective with the Neo-San Francisco Police Department, has left the big city lights behind in favor of opening her own agency.
Valentine's Day. A time for celebrating love-or finding it. When a robot's human lover goes missing, Lexi will be faced with a case unlike any she's tackled yet, one which just might show her that not all is as it seems in this pleasant beachside community...

Grace's script in "Valentine's Day" is pretty meticulous in its establishing the character of Lexi Rivers as a hard-thinking detective. Since the majority of the issue is focused on establishing her character Grace doesn't really spend as much time on the case itself, but since this is an ongoing series there should be plenty of time to wrap that portion up. The case focuses on a robot in love which is a pretty heady concept in and of itself and Grace treats with a proper amount of philosophical respect. "Mermaids Don't Cry" is a much shorter take on the concept of robots and emotion, looking at packing up an apartment after the passing of a friend. There's a sense of loneliness conveyed on the part of the robot despite its nature as a robot, but Kenney does a great job of cramming despair in two pages of story.

Simeone's art style in "Valentine's Day" is mod in its approach, as it relies on very sharp angles. The characters are drawn in a way where they seem to cut against the backdrops which have a sufficient futuristic feel to them. Simeone furthers the approach with the panels themselves, all of which are very clean rectangles that move from insets to overlays with a seemingly reckless abandon. The pixelated artwork by Antoinette and Neofotistou in "Mermaids Don't Cry" is very cool, taking a cue from seemingly the golden age of video game graphics. The colors in both issues are vibrant and alive, creating a cyberpunk atmosphere.

Both stories in Read Only Memories #1 are pretty interesting takes on the concepts of robotics and humanity converging. The characters in each are part of the larger universe and demonstrate a capacity for empathy--despite some of the characters being robots. Grace's script in "Valentine's Day" is pretty robust and heady, while Kenney is very concise in "Mermaids Don't Cry." Simeone, Antoinette and Neofotistou infuse the book with plenty of visual flair that grounds it firmly in the future. Read Only Memories #1 is a very slick first issue that has a lot of room ahead of it to maneuver.

Read Only Memories #1 is available now.