By Octavio Karbank
There's a little book coming out next week you might want to pick up from IDW: Boy-1. If you like genuine science fiction, then you're in for a treat. Science fiction stories, in their truest form, have become more and more difficult to find. Additionally, discovering a "quality" sci-fi story is harder still. For better or worse, we live in an age where pure science fiction, the tales written by Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick and Robert A. Heinlein, are becoming a thing of the past, only to have become replaced by the new. What is the "new"? If you look at comic books, movies, and television shows, most everything sci-fi revolves around superheroes or people with powers. A few exceptions to the rule exist, and you sometimes see TV networks and comic book companies trying to push hard sci-fi concepts.
Science fiction works when the audience/reader recognizes something in the story as not altogether unfamiliar. The ability to connect with what we're seeing or reading, baring witness to a setting that could very well come to pass. When the fiction of sci-fi becomes almost indistinguishable from what we perceive to be possible, not only are we able to positively respond in kind, but also our suspension of disbelief is just that, suspended. The lines between fiction and what-might-be get blurred in the purist way possible, thus giving birth to glorious sci-fi. Take a look at the comic Think Tank. While grounded in current technology, it maintains sci-fi aspects, but the reader is unable to tell fact from fiction. Subtly is the name of the game when seamlessly incorporating science-fiction features in the world-building process that comes out of making intelligent and unique futuristic stories. Boy-1 succeeds on all these fronts!
When you have people in the real world making comments like, "Why don't we have that yet?" or "I could totally see that becoming our future," you know you're on to something great. With that, we finally arrive to IDW's Boy-1. Written by H.S. Tak and with artwork by Amancay Nahuelpan, comic book readers can now add Boy-1 to the "true" sci-fi genre.
Boy-1 tells the futuristic story of a man who discovers he's been the subject of a nefarious out-of-control experiment, an experiment that puts all of humanity in jeopardy. With this frightening knowledge, he soon finds himself on the run when various countries and the powers-that-be try and hunt him down.
So, should you read Boy-1? Yes, you definitely should. The story brims with potential, and the world Tak has constructed is unique, intriguing, and deserving of multiple visits. The first issue alone captures the imagination, both in its originality and the comic's self-aware humor.
Comedy, or at least the numerous pop culture references, is scattered throughout the book, placed at especially opportune moments. While moments in the story satirize other sci-fi, the writing is good enough to not crumble under the weight of its own wit. Disallowing the narrative to get bogged down by its own cleverness is an important aspect of writing in general; an aspect Tak successfully navigates through.
The artwork too is drawn with a particular flair. Nahuelpan has designed a world that's simultaneously shiny and gritty. Amidst the glamour and splendor, lies a seedy underbelly lurking mere inches away. Having Nahuelpan show off both the world our protagonist reside in and the old, forgotten world is a wonderful juxtaposition.
For the speculator, Boy-1 might be a good book to pick up too. With the potential for a TV deal, Boy-1 could very well become the next sci-fi hit we've all been waiting to watch. If that happens, then the first issue will likely be difficult to find at a reasonable price, like with issue one of Think Thank and Sex Criminals.
Boy-1 has everything required of a good science fiction story. Granted, the ending is a little rushed, but if that's the only problem to come out of a first issue, then we're in the clear. Coming out next Wednesday on August 12th, if you've been on the hunt for intelligent, pop culture savvy, sci-fi with a hefty dosage of realism, then read Boy-1. You shan't be disappointed.
Octavio Karbank is a writer and bona fide Whovian. Living in Massachusetts, you can find him on Twitter @TymeHunter and his blog www.cozmicventures.com