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At first glance, the world of Second Soul seems like a futuristic dystopia; it’s a world in which mechanical body implants are as commonplace as a tummy tuck, media conglomerates own their entertainers, and human cloning can bring back the dead. As disturbing as all that sounds, the most troubling thing about this world is that it’s only half a step away from our own.
Brown knows that the scariest nightmares are the ones that are most likely to happen, so he only slightly extrapolates many of the so-called advances of today’s society into a hellish near-future. In Brown’s world, a record company doesn’t let the death of its star artist affect its bottom line; in fact, it’s great publicity for the clone it quickly generates to keep the music coming.
Problem is: Drummer Mtukwubwa (the clone) is now merely a being of natural flesh. The lack of bionic and mechanical augmentation make him a social cripple with massive memory gaps and, mentally, a different person—one who’s not inspired to make additional music. And Mtu’s quest to rediscover himself doesn’t jibe with his employer’s interest, for reasons other than the obvious.
Amat’s pencils quietly interpret Brown’s vision, speaking rather than shouting, downplaying an environment that should be truly frightening. And Gilbert’s thick inks and often sparse backgrounds dilute things a bit more. A little more detail would have been welcome but not essential. Brown’s prophecy is plenty scary, as is.
— Jim Johnson
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|ca. 2004||Scott O. Brown||Amin Amat