Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reset


Unemployed comedian/actor Guy Krause gets the opportunity to do what many people would like in this graphic novel: to go back and change his past. He is approached to volunteer for an experiment in virtual reality where he can relive experiences and change their outcomes. Imagine being able to go back and ask out that crush that never was consummated, to mend relationships with estranged parents, to make those changes to avoid that horrible divorce, to make that bet to strike it rich. Guy gets to do all those things and more, and if things go horribly awry, he can hit the reset button and try again.

What makes this book interesting and not just a riff on Groundhog Day is not just that Guy is unstable and unpredictable to the point where he jeopardizes the experiment, but also that there is a mystery as to how the programmers know so much about the intimate details of his past and another as to who exactly is backing this experiment and why. Some of these questions are addressed by the end of this book but some remain clouded. It is a stretch to say that the characters here are likeable, but they are very human, relatable, and intriguing.

Many of the themes in this book are common to the work of Peter Bagge. In the more than three decades he has been working in comics he has explored the mundane realities of people's lives, the outcomes of their choices, and the effects of changing trends and technologies. His series Neat Stuff and Hate are seminal alternative comics works, and his more recent stuff such as Apocalypse Nerd and Other Lives remain topical and relevant. Bagge talks more about his career and work on this series in this interview.

Online reviews I have read about this book have been on the positive side. James Hunt wrote that there is "a strong, traditionally structured story at the heart of this issue and plenty of directions in which it could develop." Chuck Suffel called it "an interesting book, witty and weird," that is enhanced by Bagge's "unique art style." Rob Wells commented that  "Reset isn’t exactly hilarious, but these two comics raised quite a few smiles, and even a few sniggers." Emmanuel Malchiodi wrote that this book was "both funny and engrossing."

Previews for each of the individual issue are available here from the book's publisher Dark Horse.

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