Comic Reviews: September 1993
Although the science fiction subgenre of cyberpunk is enjoying a wealth of popularity in paperbacks, it has enjoyed little exposure among comic book material: Lazarus Churchyard and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2099 (!) being notable exceptions. Happily, Cult Press has remedied that oversight with the delightful Raggedyman.
Set in the somewhat distant future, this imaginative six-issue miniseries features the dreadlocked Rainger Salazar, a resourceful private detective. Salazar is dragged into some corporate nastiness due to the threat of Blackmail and soon finds himself in over his head as he tries to find out what happened to a field operator. Said field operative, Kate McClelland, (unbeknownst to Salazar and his employer, departed from the physical plane after stealing a biomechanical being and executing a subsequent double-cross.
As issue number five opens, Gaura, Salazar’s wife, has run afoul of Watenabe Kensuke, a cyborg agent who was pursuing McClelland. Meanwhile, McClelland’s lover (and Salazar’s employee), Kati Mannheim (sort of), visits an old friend, and a Yakuza corporation, Metsuke, wonders what has happened to its agent.
Sounds confusing? Perhaps my description is, but the story, while Intricate, is very detailed and intriguing. Writer T. M. Lowe manages to pack in an enormous amount of detail and action while balancing the difficult task of characterization. Despite the numerous interconnected plot threads, Lowe creates vivid and sympathetic characters. With materials as off-the wall as this, well-fleshed characters are imperative to making the storyline believable, and Lowe succeeded admirably.
Happily, Lowe is ably abetted by artist Anthony Jon Hicks, whose graphics are equally professional. Lowe’s style is similar (without being derivative) to British illustrator Bryan Talbot (who coincidentally provides a spectacular coven for the series). The renderings are detailed and smooth. Hicks draws human beings and fantastic technology with consummate skill. His characters are all distinctive and original, with well-rendered scenes that move the story along at a lightning pace.
If all this sounds like ranting by your humble critic, well, maybe I am ranting. It’s just nice to find original, highly creative material in a medium that is lapsing into derivation and stagnation. If more material like Raggedyman is being made elsewhere, though, there may be hope for the industry yet. Grade: B+