Ales Kot, “Material Book One” (Image, 2015)
So here’s what happened: I read my eARC (thanks Image & Netgalley!), and immediately went & ordered a physical copy of this book. My brain had that oh so good scrambly feeling, and I knew that I wanted to read this again & again.
What is Material? There are various storylines, each dealing with a different contemporary issue. There’s a jaded university professor who is confronted with an emerging Artificial Intelligence. There’s a man who had been held captive in Guantanamo Bay, who is now back with his family. There’s a young black man who runs afoul of the Chicago police. Finally there’s an actress working on a movie.
So we have technology, the abuses of power, and art. Big, meaty themes that can be addressed. Many questions are raised, but not answered. The implication clearly is that we need to find our own answers.
Somewhat unusual is the inclusion of essays at the end of the trade. The usual practice seems to be the exclusion of this sort of material from trades. As someone who doesn’t read single issues, I have to say thank you! I’d love for more books to do this.
This is a mature, thoughtful book that would be good for people who aren’t really into comics. Everyone portrayed is a regular person. Its strength is its engagement with reality. While there is indeed a SFnal element in the AI, it is not so strong as to put someone off the book.