IDW Read-Only Memories Resuscitate Cyberpunk With William Gibson Style
Midboss 2064’s comedic companion, Read Only Memories is a well-crafted story that honors its source material while remaining self-contained.
Cyberpunk began as a type of sci-fi that shed light on the plight of disenfranchised communities in a bleak, high-tech future where endemic poverty forced people to take incredible risks, producing some of the greatest anti- hero of fiction. Works like William Gibson’s Neuromancer and 2000AD Judge Dredd helped prove how entertaining and empowering the subgenre can be. Now in the days of Ghost in the shell perfume and the exhausted criticism Cyberpunk 2077, it can sometimes seem like the once subversive genre has lost its edge. Luckily, the 2015 game from game developer Midboss 2064: Read-only memories takes the genre back to its fun yet challenging roots. Rightly, the IDW Read-only memories Sina Grace and Stefano Simeone’s comic book takes the story in bold new directions.
“Valentine’s Day”, the main story of IDW’s Read-only memories, takes place between the events of the original game and its next sequel, Neurodiver. The comic book story follows former Neo-San Francisco policewoman Lexi Rivers as she makes a new life working as a private investigator in Santa Cruz. When a robot named Heddy shows up at her door to ask for help finding their missing boyfriend, Lexi assumes it will be a standard, boring case. However, the idea of a robot and a human falling in love piques her interest and she needs the money, so she accepts. As Lexi digs deeper into the matter, she finds herself sneaking into cult parties and investigating a bizarre conspiracy that raises serious questions about the nature of human consciousness.
In IDWs Read-only memories, Sina Grace presents a weary version of the world of Lexi that immediately seems familiar to fans of the original game but is just as charming to new fans. Grace uses Lexi’s tongue-in-cheek storytelling to add humor to this grim version of the future. All the characters, even the robots, overflow with a personality that seems to exist in defiance of the classist and violent dystopia they inhabit. Grace crafted a story that offers readers a tour of Santa Cruz’s wealthiest neighborhoods and its underworld that culminates in the unsavory places where the two intersect. As compelling as the central mystery is, Grace’s handwriting shines best when Lexi compares her cynical ideas about love with those of her romantic robotic employer. The argument for love and kindness in the face of a future where most relationships are transactional is beautiful in itself. The fact that it comes from artificial intelligence raises fascinating questions about the identity and nature of humanity.
Stefano Simeone’s art provides the perfect backdrop for Read-only memories‘ideas. Simeone evokes the tone and spirit of the game but adds its singular style. Simeone’s visions of Neo-San Francisco and Santa Cruz are magnificent and haunting. A majority of the comic is told using hot pink, neon pink, and a subtle range of blues. This simple color scheme washes everything in a retro-futuristic glow that perfectly matches the tone of the book. Simeone does an impressive job of drawing the robot characters in an emotional way without anthropomorphizing them, which makes Heddy’s character particularly endearing.
This commercial pocket edition of Read-only memories also includes the four save stories that appeared at the end of each issue. Written by Mary Kenney and Caleb Goellner, they feature playful callbacks to the game. While none of them tell particularly groundbreaking stories, they are fun gags whose inclusion is proof of the playful nature of the game. collection. In particular, Christina-Antoinette Neofotiston’s pixel art is a delight.
Read-only memories is a great companion to the game that inspired him. Readers unfamiliar with video games will always find a smart, exciting, and standalone cyberpunk story. Sina Grace and Stefano Simeone take inspiration from their source material while adding something new and interesting to the world of Midboss.
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