Writer: Mark Powers
Artists: Shawn McManus & Lizzy Johns
Publisher: Devil’s Due
Reviewer: Rob Patey ( aka Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)
I hate reading comics as PDFs or online. Call me a purist, a pulpophile or just an old curmudgeon, but I will forever cherish the experience of flipping, rather than scrolling through, pages. As an AICN reviewer I get a slew of links each week to online books or the PDF versions of books on shelves. Since I love the little guys, I do click every link and try my best to scroll through the pixilated pages as I adjust between 75% and 150% view in Adobe. However, the manual labor involved to just read the book does raise my scrutiny level. Basically, to get me to scroll through all 22 pages of an online title it better be a damn enticing read. Guess what kids? I found one. REST hooked me right from the cover, and getting to the final page was well worth every ounce of effort.
REST not only has an enticing premise, but it will redefine how you think of “super” humans. The protagonist John whittles away precious hours of his life as a cube jockey whose life’s ambitions have been squashed…well, by life. Lowering his aspirations from world renowned photographer to middle management has left him in a sleepwalking malaise that many of us who occupy desk jobs can relate to instantly. I’ve always believed that the trappings of modern society have forced us to lead an unnatural existence. Humans are not biologically wired to merely exercise our fingers at keyboards under the life-sucking glow of fluorescent bulbs for 8 to 10 hours every day. REST confirmed that I’m not alone in my belief that we are slowly killing ourselves with this work, sleep, work, sleep, rinse, repeat lifestyle, and it brilliantly offers an antidote.
Good comics take our current societal trends and extrapolate them out to the nth degree. REST is an examination of our current love affair of better living through pharmacology and asks the question, what would your life be like if you never had to sleep? What could you accomplish by recouping the time you spend counting sheep and recharging for the next day? What would you do with what equates to an extra 30 years of life?
There’s no doubt that virtuous individuals would find ways to use this time to cure the world’s woes. But this is not the story of the virtuous, but rather the every man. John is courted to become patient beta by his estranged college roommate Teddy, whose life appears just too damn good to be true after taking this modern miracle of science. Teddy has used the anti-Ambien to fill his days and nights with private jets, fast cars and even faster women. I have to say I liked this approach of the every man taking the drug over, say, watching Mother Theresa popping the pill to feed more lepers gruel. It makes the story relatable, and by focusing on the finite one man viewpoint for now the book can have legs for the future once more people start shunning snooze time.
The cover is brilliant in design despite my lukewarm feelings towards the art work. I always like a clever presentation of the “must have” information like the title, the issue number, date, etc. REST prescribes to presenting this information like a prescription label. The date is presented as an expiration date and Devil’s Due is no longer a publisher, but a distributor. Being a corporate branding guy for my day job, I applaud this ballsy approach to logo and name usage. My one word of warning to Devil’s Due is not to use an acronym in this approach, but stick to your full name. I know it will screw up spacing, but not being a DC or a Marvel you need all of the name-drop bludgeoning you can get in the marketplace.
Yes, I was lukewarm to the art. Faces seem to be cut from the same pointy angular mold that was used when the X-Men were infested by the Tsunami manga approach a few years ago. The only difference between John and Teddy is hair color, and the only way to tell man from a woman is hair length and dress. The art wasn’t bad, if you don’t mind manga light, but it’s a definite let down when compared to the originality of the story.
I’m intrigued by the direction this book will take. The obvious foil is the head of the pharmaceutical company, based on his pencil thin mustache and ominous widow peaks. I’m also hoping the drug takes some toll on John other than the usual diarrhea, headaches and mild nausea that comes with clinical drug testing. Now that the exposition is out of the way, if issue 2 can deliver some drama I think DDP has a definite winner on their hands.