You know that voice inside your head, the one with the ability to undermine your every thought? And the cell phone in your pocket, the one you increasingly rely on for the answers to all your questions? Imagine a future where both of these entities collide inside your brain; a future in which anything that can be known is known– whether you like it or not. In their new series “Wynter,” writer Guy Hasson and artist Aron Elekes offer readers a layered meditation on technology’s morphing relationship with the individual. The result is an inventive, complex, and original first issue from the new all-digital publisher “New Worlds Comics.” With the trending emergence of wearable technology in today’s world, the dark universe of “Wynter” might arrive a bit sooner than expected.
Set in the distant future (careful eyes will catch the year, 9898, on an app logistics panel) on the terraformed planet of “Melantho,” the comic opens with disillusioned teen, Liz Wynter, in a state of reflection: “Everyone says… I’m lucky to know… I can’t ever be special.” In this bleak future, every ‘flawed’ thought one has is automatically corrected by the technological voice inside his/her head. In Liz Wynter’s case, the sentiment of ‘feeling special’ is immediately countered with a revision that 200 billion people felt the same way in the past 30 seconds. Her furious response is quickly met with another bleak statistic: 800 million others had the same reaction. It’s no wonder Liz rebels in any way she can: smashing up windows, smoking in class, stealing cars, spitting in faces—all radical actions. But, to echo an old science fiction sentiment, sometimes our reality is in such a poor state that it calls for radical responses.
The real fun begins when Liz meets up with her only friend, Shane. In this world, human technology can measure any individual’s minute optical reaction during eye contact. After noticing that Shane is 90% attracted to her (Liz is only 15% attracted to Shane), the two begin their intensely amusing exploration of the world’s newest apps. Together, the two have fun playing around with apps that let them see anyone in the vicinity as nude, calorie-counter apps (“Next!”), and apps that highlight an object’s weakest points (i.e. certain framework in a building), and then let users customize the perfect virtual bomb to destroy it. Aside from the whole ‘ghost in the machine’ aspect, the future has some cool new toys.
“iSteal TM” is a particularly engrossing app for these rebellious teens, and also the one that proves to get the two into serious trouble. “iSteal TM” offers the ability to ‘steal’ all other apps off of anyone within a certain radius of oneself. Using this device on a crowded subway train, the two snag an ominous app simply called “Subversive.” From the lack of a trademark, the app is immediately recognized as hacker technology. Opening “Subversive” presents the viewer with a majestic view of the galaxy. It then runs a simulation that demonstrates how to gradually topple the entire Galactic Government, planet by planet. The Galactic Government presumably being the entity responsible for how bleak and conformist life has become, this is no small undertaking.
Although it is unclear as to what purpose “Subversive” truly serves, Liz soon begins realizing certain possibilities. Toppling the Galactic Government would give her the opportunity to change the worlds, a feat which would prove that her fate is not predetermined, making her finally and irrefutably special. After all, this is a world where every single person’s exact DNA has been born thousands of times before, and will be born thousands of times after; a world in which one can visually map and analyze thousands of different (yet sadly ordinary) parallel lives. In which case, taking part in a galactic revolution, an act unprecedented, would not only redefine the potential of Liz’s own limited DNA permutation, but also perhaps every other person alive. That’s what “Subversive” is all about, right?
There’s a lot going on in the first issue of “Wynter”: secret revolutionaries, cops with infallible predictive models, tech-mind dualism, and government-toppling apps… Basically, it’s the comic Philip K. Dick would create if he were writing today. The world even has its own futuristic anti-depressants: a blue powder which parents can slip into their teenagers’ drinks, altering their brain chemistry, to quit that pesky yearning to be unique.
It is not the high tech inventiveness alone that makes this world come off the page. Elekes’s art is honestly stunning. At times lushly beautiful, and at others darkly eerie, his depiction of this grim future is perfectly executed. Despite the richly realized tech-future, the story proves to be as much about the inner world as it is about the outer. More than anything, the comic grapples with the concept of individuality, and the fickle idea of uniqueness. With the series’ hard sci-fi concept, intelligent commentary on society, and beautiful visuals, “Wynter” reads like a classic Humanoids comic from the glory days. Echoes of sci-fi comic masters such as Alejandro Jodorowsky and Juan Gimenez will certainly be felt with some readers, and that’s no easy feat. It’s an appropriate launch title for this all-digital comic publisher, the aptly titled “New Worlds Comics.”
Wynter #2 comes out Tuesday, May 6th at http://newworldscomics.com/