“I live once though the mind stays infinite”- Raekwon
I grew up on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx & by proxy that line, one bar out of the billions that I’ve processed from spending the majority of my life listening primarily to rap music. It’s a brilliant statement, saying how his recorded words will outlast his physical existence. But how prophetic; here we are in a world where our entire lives are now recorded and documented via computers. Raekwon was talking about hot lines but that’s become the reality for anybody with a twitter feed. To what end? Arcadia is the type of brilliant speculative science fiction that tries to answer that question by extrapolating a futurist theory of mind uploading with a rich and engaging debut issue. The concept itself isn’t all that new, world is nearly destroyed so the majority of humanity is uploaded to a digital version of our reality, it’s basically a mash up of a few science fiction tropes to address hypermodern concerns about technology, pollution, over population, income inequality ect But Arcadia sets itself apart in three distinct ways: it creates fully formed and dynamic characters right out the gate, it subtlety introduces an intriguing plot and it has a beautifully eclectic illustration style.
The way that Arcadia establishes both character’s that are interesting and unique in addition to a strong plot, all the while getting into some heady subject matters at the stories center is really impressive. It’s even more impressive when you realize that this is writer Alex Paknadel’s first major comics work. I’m not sure where he came from and based on the sophistication of the material, I would think he’s written a script or two before this, but even with that qualifier, to have your first major comic come out this great is an achievement in itself. Even if this series does go off the rails, there’s no doubt from the debut that the writer is a natural talent to look out for. Same goes for artist Eric Scott Pfeiffer, who’s lush and free flowing style is reminiscent of Emma Del Rios and is flexible in creating a unique vision for environments as varied as a cyber punk Los Angeles, barren desert or a server farm in Alaska. This all makes for a fantastic debut that lures you in with the world building and then locks you up with it’s fantastic story about family and politics, wrapped up in bleeding edge science fiction. And maybe part of it’s excellence is a byproduct of it’s inception, much like Change a few years ago, maybe it’s because these voices are so new and interesting that Arcadia feels so fresh. Maybe coming into it with fresh eyes has allowed them to come up with a comic that is really addressing our world in 2015 like no other comic right now. But that’s only part of the story, because even if you take it out of it’s modern context, the base level of craft on display is undeniably exceptional.
There are a lot of new books coming this summer from all sorts of established talents and you’d be foolish not to check those out but, if you’re looking for the next guys up, new voices and a great new series, if you want something different, if you want something more and if you want something that is directly addressing our world in a way that nothing else has, put your money on Arcadia.