City: The Mind in the Machine Vol. 1
Story: Eric Garcia
Pencils and Ink Javier Fernandez, Drew Moss, and Michael Montenat
Colors: Mark Englert and Douglas A. Sirois
Letters: Troy Peteri
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: October 8, 2014
Opinions about the power that the government wields in our everyday lives are, well, everywhere these days. Drones. Video Surveillance. Phone taps. Everywhere. Well, what happens when the machines become a part of the people that control them?
That’s the question at the center of City: The Mind in the Machine Volume 1. The title itself is a play on an old philosophical concept, that of the ghost in the machine. The idea of sentience in humans; that is, where does such a thing come from? Is it unique to humanity? Is consciousness a separate mechanism from the body or a byproduct of the interplay of complex biological systems?
While City doesn’t necessarily address that problem head on, what it does do is explore the consequences of government-rule based on fear and the evolving relationship between humanity and our technology. A tried and true trope to be sure, and to be honest, City doesn’t really do anything new with the theme.
The characters are all pretty stock; Ben, the awkward genius, his friend Owen, maybe as smart as Ben but a little more business savvy, Ben’s love interest Chloe, whom he has trouble connecting with and of course the government lackey, Callahan, liason to Homeland Security and blah blah blah. Nothing groundbreaking or even very original.
It’s not all bad though, the art in the book is serviceable, with the one truly bright spot being Ben’s eyes. After a “terror” attack (orchestrated by Callahan, but never thoroughly explored) Ben has his eyes replaced with some pretty sweet digital upgrades. They look pretty cool and connect him to the city of San Francisco’s technological infrastructure.
And that’s about the only positive thing I have to say about this book.
The rest is run-of-the-mill stuff. Ben’s human to machine connection deepens, he discovers his once benefactor Callahan is into some bogus stuff and is summarily hunted down in an attempt to suppress the truth. Owen gets killed, Ben vows revenge. Ben uses his tehno-powers to woo his crush and enlist her aid in his quest. And, well, you know how this goes right? Right, of course you do.
Bottomline, steer clear of this book unless you just have some time and few brain cells to kill.
By Adam Cadmon