Paul Pope brings a quiet, old-school sensibility to noisy, postmodern comics with Heavy Liquid. This graphic novel, set in the late 21st century, focuses on all the classic elements of detective and adventure stories: lost love, mysterious clients, a package everyone wants, and a tired, barely willing protagonist. The narrative details--such as the eponymous liquid, which is part munition, part drug, and much stranger than any character imagines--are calculated to foil the reader's assumptions, and the expressionistic artwork blends simple colors with bold lines to draw the eyes onward. It seems safe to say that cyberpunk's not dead. --Rob Lightner
A singular figure on the comics scene, Pope (One Trick Rip-off) is the rare comics artist who can move between the opposing worlds of self-published, underground comix and mainstream, commercial comics, always producing personal works of imagination with extraordinary graphic skill. Set in a moodily rendered New York and Paris about the year 2075, Heavy Liquid is an urban love story transformed by science fiction into a bracing, futuristic international crime thriller. It's the story of "S," a former drug agent turned private investigator and petty criminal. He's addicted to heavy liquid, a mysterious hallucinatory substance sought after by different characters for its various properties. A mysterious and wealthy art collector wants it to be cast in a work of art; a gang of ruthless masked gunmen know that it can be used as an efficient, powerful explosive; and an equally hard-nosed government agency knows its shrouded origin and wants the stuff out of circulation. But S's use of heavy liquid (he cooks it up like heroin and puts drops in his ear) produces an effect far beyond its mind-bending high: it seems to produce a powerful, shadow life-form that inhabits his mind and body or is it just a delusional by-product of heavy liquid's potent high? Pope has embellished his stylish love story with heart-stopping action and adventure. But he has also produced a moody fictional essay of urban culture and its organic, pervasive amalgamation with technology. Pope's drawing and page design (the book is printed in three eerily manipulated colors) is both technically assured and wonderfully expressive.
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