Saturday, November 30, 2013

Citizen Rex

To close out Gilbert Hernandez Month, today I am looking at a book he co-created with his older brother Mario, Citizen Rex. This book collects a 6 issue limited series about a gossip columnist, robots, a secret tribunal of truth-seekers, black market prosthetics, family drama, and an android that just might be the next step in human/robot synthesis.

A facile way to describe this book would be to call it a cleaner version of Blade Runner, in the sense that this world is much more sanitary and well composed. The main story happens about 50 years from now and follows Sergio Bauntain, a gossip columnist who goes by the name Bloggo. He usually covers stories about local organized crime, much of it centering on the illegal trade of technological body parts, as such enhancements are all the rage. But he ends up catching on that the advanced robot CTZ-RX-1 was not actually deactivated and destroyed as previously though but is avenging his past mistreatment. All the while Bloggo is pursued by the Truth Takers, a mysterious group of vigilantes who seek the justice that the system does not seem to provide and who resort to sinister ways to get the truth.
Sample page from Comixology
There are a lot of moving parts and ideas in this book. Like any piece of good science fiction, it blurs lines between reality and fiction, human and machine, and the demands of family versus those of society. It is an exercise in action, intrigue, philosophy, and metaphysics. I thought the book was a very suspenseful, fun, and exciting read, using familiar sci-fi elements but crafting a narrative that seemed unique unto itself. Mario and Gilbert speak more about creating the series in this interview.

Reviews I have read about this collection have been very positive. The Comics Journal's Sean T. Collins called it "a dense, engrossing, and above all humanistic approach to the genre, and not a bad way to calibrate one’s behavior in the real world as well." Dominick Malloy called it "a uniquely deep story." Sarah Boslaugh summed it up as "a sci-fi epic overflowing with ideas and artwork soaked in retro cool."

Citizen Rex is available from its publisher Dark Horse, who provide a preview here.

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