Story and Layouts by Richard Marazano
Pencils and Inks by Jean-Michael Ponzio
Lettering by Fawn Lau
Script translation by Edward Gauvin
Release Date: May 2, 2012
Cover Price: $19.95
Genetiks is the story of Thomas Hale, an engineer at a powerful company that deals in the research and development of scientific innovation, primarily in the field of genetics. Hale submits his DNA code to Genetiks, his employer, as a way of accepting his life as an engineer for a large firm, and when it’s his DNA code that finally gets cracked, he’s more than happy to give his life to the company. Things starting shaking up, though, when Hale starts having violent and disturbing flashes of hallucinations or memories which leads him to question his company’s motivations. Rightly so, as what they are up to is not for the faint of heart. While the concept and story of Genetiks are highly intriguing, I was not in love with the final product.
Now let’s start off with just the basics. I always have a bit of trouble reading a lot of Archaia’s comics due to the fact that most were written in a completely different language and have been translated to English, and while Edward Gauvin and others that have worked in translating these scripts before do a fantastic job, the end result is not the best possible scenario. It honestly feels that a lot of the tone of the story is lost in that translation and it’s hard to get past that in some instances throughout the comic, which is unfortunate because the concept here is a great one.
The story from Richard Moranzo is the kind of story I go crazy over. As little experience that I’ve had in laboratories and science classes, the ideas of genetic manipulation and overpowered conglomerates that populate so much science fiction, which are coming closer to being science fact, are stories that I absolutely love to read. Books like Brave New World and movies like Gattaca are some of my favorites, and Genetiks fits comfortably in that mold. It’s a story that’s been told several times, but every few years, the concepts deserve an updated version considering all of the rapid developments in science over the past few years. So, if you’re out for a truly compelling story that will keep you turning the pages, Genetiks is for you. Even though I loved the ideas and intrigue being presented in the comic, there’s still a lot that I wasn’t crazy about. The plot is so high concept that at points the comic seems to move to fast to catch details that seem extremely important. Also, the comic just kind of ends. I’ve seen that Archaia’s website and Amazon have listed this as “volume one,” so I hope there’s more to this story, because the ending definitely feels like it cheats you out of real resolution that the reader deserves. As I said, this comic is not my favorite, but I truly enjoyed the story.
And although I loved the script, the other large portion of graphic storytelling fell flat for me. Personally, I am not a fan of the art in this book in the least. It’s a photorealistic style from Jean-Michael Ponzio that just rubs me the wrong way. I understand the desire for a realistic style, especially to accompany a story of science and genetics, but I would have preferred something along the lines of what Jonathan Hickman has done in books like Pax Romana which takes a realistic look at people, but also makes it still feel like you’re reading a comic book as opposed to a book of very good graphic design. And I want to stress that the art is very well done. The colors and inks are all wonderful and the photorealistic style of Ponzio is good for that style, but I’m just not a fan of that style. That said, I also don’t believe that this style works for the script that was produced. There’s a real disconnect between the story and the art where incredibly serious matters of life and death are being discussed by main players in the story that simply does not translate with the art. You could have a discussion between Thomas and his love interest/liberator about Thomas’ life being ruined or shocking revelations that lead the story to some crazy twists while the facial expressions are happy with smiling faces like they’re talking about their favorite rays of sunshine. It just doesn’t work. I will say, however, that Ponzio’s backgrounds and non-character art is perfect. I even found myself wanting to see the style that was applied to the background characters that lacked a lot of detail to be brought to the main characters. There’s a lot like about the art, but I just feel like it didn’t work.
All in all, there’s a lot to love and a lot to not like so much with Genetiks, but if you’re wanting to switch up your normal comics routine with some interesting high concept science that will keep you turning the pages for answers, I’d absolutely suggest you pick this book up.