Friday, December 16, 2011

Graphic Novel Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Dust to Dust vol. 2

After reviewing Dust to Dust vol 1 last week, we pick up with Malcom Reed - the human who can tell an android from a human because of their lack of emotions - being brought to the replicant hide-out. As in the last volume the readers were witness to how quickly Malcom was losing his mind out among the emotions of all the human beings, how overwhelming it was for him - now we also see what a calming effect being around replicants has on him, how much saner he feels. So it's no surprise that when the androids reveal to him that their plan is to harness the power of Dust to finish off the human race and enable their inevitable rise to power as soon as possible - Malcom starts to think that a world without all those emotions run rampant might just be a good thing.

Meanwhile Charlie Victor drags Samantha along with him on his investigation somewhat unwillingly, but he feels she's his best chance at tracking down her assistant - which is his only lead to the rest of the androids. Through a combination of flashbacks to Charlie's time in the war and Malcom's interactions with the replicants in the present the reader starts to realize that one of Charlie's compatriots, Talus, is the leader of this renegade group - and they're headed towards a final confrontation.

Along the way, the reader learns that Samantha does not deal well with death - despite being a scientist she hasn't learned to distance herself from those she's trying to help. And worse, now she may be faced with killing a replicant - is that even life? And can she do it if it comes down to a choice between her own survival and her strong aversion to causing harm to someone else?

Most of the androids don't trust or like Malcom, but Talus finds him fascinating - both for his talent, and for his lack of fear of replicants. Things will get more complicated for both men when Charlie and Samantha finally show up though - as Samantha is ready to show the replicants what it's like to have those emotions they so despise. What becomes of Talus plan to eliminate those "feeling" humans when that no longer separates their people, and what becomes of Malcom when the replicants who were blissfully unfeeling are suddenly overwhelming his senses? And what is Charlie's ultimate purpose, the programming that he cannot escape that compels him to complete his mission?

These are all fascinating questions that are each given their own resolution within this story. Like the best science fiction, not only does it raise questions, but it at least provides the characters with an opportunity to grow from their experiences in the story and come to their own conclusions about what has happened. In all Dust to Dust is an intriguing tale, a story that works well within the framework of Dick's original and also as a nice expansion to it. Dust to Dust doesn't just bring good concepts to the table, it also utilizes them well, creating a whole story that's a pleasure to read from beginning to end.

If you're a fan of either Blade Runner or Philip K Dick's stories, Dust to Dust has a little something for either of you. You need not be well versed in either in order to understand this series, while I may have revealed in my prior review that I've seen the movie a few times and read the book, I'll also say that it's been years since I've done either - and I found I had no difficulty following the story presented here. Fans of science fiction in their comics would do well to pay attention to this book as well, this is not space fantasy, but about exploring the human condition by using the broad context of a future world in which man has made a machine in his own image; from Dust to Dust.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds good. I think I'll order these, or at least the first one.