In the last two years, society’s dependence on technology and virtual communication has increased exponentially thanks to the situation we have all found ourselves in. However, could there be such a thing as too much? Well, we check out Callum Fraser, Emiliano Correa and Robin Jones’ asking that very question with Peace of Mind from Grym Comics.
Publisher: Grym Comics
Writer: Callum Fraser
Artist: Emiliano Correa (Art), Robin Jones (Letters)
Price: £12 from BuySmallPress.com
Set in the near future, Peace of Mind shows us a world where Corporate Governments rule through the use of Social Virtual Reality where, for a fee, you can interact with your friends and family and escape the harsh, grim reality of the real world. But when a VTweaker, someone dependent upon this system, runs out of credit and is ejected, her almost lifeless body finds its way to a group of people who live outside this status quo. Now, with the corporate military in pursuit, these rescuers must find a way to help this VTweaker while continuing to avoid those who would control everyone’s way of life.
I have to confess, while I didn’t know what to think of this going in, the synopsis certainly made it sound interesting; a cross between The Matrix and Ready Player One. Indeed, after reading it, these two franchises are certainly noticeable within the story but I’d be doing it a disservice to say that this is all there was to it.
I really enjoyed this title as Writer Callum Fraser built a story which felt like it very much spring-boarded off of the fears and concerns currently seen in the modern world. Themes surrounding dependency of online interaction, government corruption, incompetence and obscurity, corporate control and suppression of free speech are all on view here as Fraser seems to have created a dystopian world which seems to feed off of the worst of all of these themes. As for the story itself, it is one that is surprisingly lacking in objective of its protagonists but this doesn’t detract from its intrigue Mickey, Suze and Leroy do all they can to simply survive from the dangers of their corporate overlords while attempting to help their ill charge. All three of these characters complement each other really well as Fraser finds a distinct voice for each, while ensuring enough backstory is offered to really flesh them and their views out. In fact, I found very little in the way of concerns about this series as it kept me captivated throughout, even at the eleventh hour twist which seemed to subvert everything I expected.
As for the sequentials, reminiscent of the cover to Transience: An Unforgettable Anthology, Emiliano Correa’s art and colours are beautifully haunting. Correa’s style really brought out the very grim and dirty dystopia that Fraser’s script tried to imbue into the story perfectly. However, Correa does far more as the colours not only give the series that apocalyptic vibe but also the flashbacks and in-system looks are always brighter to give this rose-tinted essence that the grass is always greener either in the past or within the systems. Of course, there are also fantastic specific images which display Correa’s talent off wonderfully, including the victim’s hair like wiring to connect her to the system, as well as the booting process and equipment for which our heroes ‘hack’ into her and, finally, the mountain of discards made from the corporations actions.
Peace of Mind is, like the lifestyle it focuses on in its story, an addictively compelling, if very grim series. With terrific writing perfectly creating this world and stellar art to match and show us it, Peace of Mind‘s only gripe is that it had to end (although who knows how many other stories could come from this world in future). Fraser, Correa and Jones have certainly created a comic very much deserving of your time (although maybe not to the extremes shown within it).