Monday, September 21, 2009

Zuda review Tessyleia 2.0/ Cyberpunk comes to Zuda

Tessyleia 2.0 is another Spetember Zuda competitor done by Marc Borstel and hayestronaut which got a favorite from me. Here is the synopsis: NeoYork, in the not-so-distant future. Tess is a young flight attendant, who retains the services of Second Chance-CyberOrganics. The company possesses the technology to store memories and behavior patterns of their living clients. More importantly, they provide customers with the capability to download these memories and behavior patterns into cyborg-hosts bodies upon the death of their original organic ones. After several months and a confirmation of death, The Company begins to assemble the cyborg Tess online.
Deeply routed in the Techno-thriller and CyberPunk genres, the story starts several hours after Tess’s initial death and subsequent synthetic renaissance. But nothing is as it seems. And soon, the cyborg will recall dark events from her past that her organic-self was desperate to forget. In this highly advanced society, information is the most valuable possession. Just as Tess is left to follow the trail that will lead her to her enemies, her predators are determined to destroy the priceless information that is contained in her cyber-brain. What’s the connection between Tess and ConCorp, the biggest warfare metacorporation on the planet? And how many times will she be forced to run from her former life?

Screen one reminded me of some old Cerebus page layouts

It was a whole lot of wordage, it did really remind me of some Cerebus layout's during High Society, but it did set the mood for the coming screens. I was impressed as you can be to see something so cyberpunky on Zuda. Between the fantastic art, and a whole lot of great dialogue was surprisingly didn't end up as sensory overload for the reader. Letters are easy to read, and the colors fit the story well. The creators really did a great job in the characterization of Dr. Mordecai in the dialogue and used binary code to spice up the layout of screen 2. The first four panels on screen 3 is what earned it a favorite from me. The thing that really stands out about this comic is how smart it is in answering the -What ifs'- that set up the story. What if you were a android implanted with human memories who was just activated? What would your process of adjustment to your new 'life' be? How does a comics creator get that across in 8 screens? In the case of Tessyleia 2.0 this is accomplished with a fork, and a Omniweb port connection. Dr. Mordecai holds up a fork to see if Tess recognizes it, which she does. He then tells her she will never need it again, and holds up her connector to the Omniweb which is how she will feed. He also sets up a no doubt later sub-plot in telling her to be careful where she feeds, because their are 'bugs' on the Omniweb that can harm her permanently. The art showing Tess focused on the fork and port connector, with the doctor a dull gray behind his hands was a well done P.O.V. shot. It also has to be said Lettering isn't just about a legible font, it's also about balloon placement. If the balloon placement in this comic wasn't handled as well as it is, the comic would suffer servery for it. The doctor also introduces her to Robbie a classic side-kick type, and also her 'phyisotherapist' to train her how to use her new android body. Which is another set-up to Tess becoming more of a bad-ass as the comic goes along, and she learns what her new body is capable of. The obvious parallels to real life physical therapy for people today (were people have to learn how to walk, talk, and eat again) are obvious. The involving execution of this part of the story was far more impressive to me than the big fight/explosion later on in the comic. The reason being a big action scene was not only expected, but damn near required everything considered. Tess's awakening was a unexpected surprise the way it was so well done. This added that 'the same, but different' hook genre stories need to really grab readers. How often do stories like this on Zuda with quiet moments come off as boring, instead of meaningful?

Oh my God, they killed Tessyleia!!!

On screen 4 Tessyleia droid 1.0 (remember that 1.0 it's going to come up later) gets her robotic exterior fitted with fake human skin. Their is a bit of a Rob Liefield style tits tribute, before Glory had the breast reduction, but if she wasn't a looker it would be less interesting. The doctor tries to get her to visualize her memories, which of course ends in her realizing she is part of a secret project "codename Penthesilea". The screens are packed with art, and dialogue, so readers don't get short changed, somehow this is pulled off without the screens being overcrowded. The creators showing this kind of talent, the only thing keeping them from being higher in the ranks is not winning enough friends, and influencing enough people. Screen 5 is where the truth/McGuffin comes flooding back into Tess 1.0's mind depicted as a stream of 1's and 0's, and a sudden urge to heave her chest. She also realizes that the bad guys are after her, and probably are already their since she paid in a traceable credit card transfer. That seems like out of character plot point stupidity -but maybe she was under the gun at the time... The main bad guy happens to be a look alike major planing to blow all of them to hell. Screen 6 we have the explosion which leaves the doctor dead, and Tess 1.0 minus a arm and some fake skin. Great art and sound effects on this screen, which ends with Tess 1.0 looking up at her doppelganger flying in the air saying "hi". "Too slow isn't" was the only real confusing dialogue in the whole comic which happens on screen 7. The look alike and Tess 1.0 do the villain monologue thing, and the new arrival reveals she is a clone then executes android Tess. Clones and androids in one cyberpunk story has the same payoff as double mint gum. Tess 1.0 dies (for her second death), and the Tess clone is told she was instructed to bring the android back in working order, clone Tess says "Yeah, well... sue me." The comic ends with the clone-major finding out Robbie escaped with Tess's memories setting up Tessyleia 2.0. It was cyberpunk done right fulfilling all reader expectations, and doing something extra in fantastic characterization which made it stand out. This comic should be higher up in the rankings, I hope to see more from the creators.

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