Empty Zone

    (Sirius, 1999)
™ and ©1999 Jason Alexander

Taking place two months after the events from Hopeless Beginnings (the previous mini-series), Empty Zone — Conversations with the Dead continues Jason Alexander’s vision of a future in which crime is out of control and cybernetic implants are as common as body piercings and tattoos. A one-world, computer-connected government has been formed to maintain law and order and act as Big Brother to the masses. The protagonist of the story, a girl with a robotic arm, is on some kind of mission for a man named Johnny 8, but she’s apparently prone to episodes of time displacement and hallucinations (or whatever), so she tends to get distracted (or something like that).

For a first issue, this comic book is not easily accessible, because it assumes readers have read the previous Empty Zone series. The narrative moves in fairly linear fashion and is easy enough to follow, but it’s not always clear (at least to the new reader) why something is happening. Alexander offers expository text on the final page, and this gives a good overview of the world in which the characters live, but it doesn’t say anything about the characters themselves. Even so, newbies with a taste for this kind of stuff will appreciate the noir-ish dialogue, the crime-drama elements, and the depressingly violent glimpse of a cyberpunk future. Alexander’s raw, scraggly art, which lies somewhere between hurried and alarmingly detailed, is suitably emotive, giving his characters a sense of gritty toughness tinged with despair.

Overall, Conversations with the Dead is cool but unrefined.

— Brett Weiss

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