Writer: Paul Carroll Art: Rebecca Reynolds, Colm Griffin, & Steve Mardo Publisher: Limit Break Comics
WHAT IS IT?
Plexus is a pulp sci-fi inspired anthology by the Limit Break (LB!) comics collective.
The three stories in this 23-page volume share a theme of shared human connection in extraordinary circumstances and appear to draw inspiration from a wide range of sources, including YA fiction, atomic age tales, and stories of transhumanism.
It's a little like Love, Death & Robots or Electric Dreams in the way it bridges science fiction with interpersonal connectedness.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The Plexus anthology consists of three short tales, all written by Paul Carroll with artistic contributions from other members of the Limit Break team.
Glitch presents the fallout of a drunken fight between two best friends, Shane (a teleporter), and Emma (a telekinetic) the previous night.
Shelter is the story of a father and daughter waiting out a nuclear apocalypse in the eponymous safe haven, where the shelter’s spokespeople are hiding a much darker secret about the outside world that could spell their imminent demise.
Finally, in aL, a married team of scientists is finally ready to test an artificial intelligence experiment that could save their family.
I can start with what works before I even get to the stories - Carroll’s cover for Plexus is beautiful, and evokes associations with classic cyberpunk by Bruce Sterling, Philip K. Dick, and William Gibson.
Paul Carroll’s dialogue in Glitch and Shelter is snappy and readable, particularly in the latter story where the sense of dread escalates steadily. Plexus is overall an energetic read, and I would like to see more of the worlds presented in these stories.
Rebecca Reynolds’ interior art is a perfect fit for the YA-infused Glitch, and compels comparisons to Christina “Steenz” Stewart’s work on the McDuffie Award-winning Archival Quality. Teleportation powers are tricky to convey on static panels, and Reynolds does an excellent job depicting how unstable Shane is both mentally and physically through his wavy, static-infused malfunctions.
Colm Griffin captures facial expressions extremely well in Shelter. The tension and irritation between the two “radio hosts” is palpable, and Griffin wrings out a lot of sympathy for the father in this story with his depiction of the character’s sadness, desperation, and terror.
Steve Mardo provides a modern EC Comics tinge to aL with his linework. The climactic panel is suitably horrifying and heartbreaking, and the pain that the two protagonists feel hit my emotions hard.
I appreciated the representation of a same-sex couple willing to do whatever it takes to reunite their family in aL. All love is equal and powerful, and this short story reinforces that fact.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Plexus falls victim to a very common problem in short comics anthologies - each story ends abruptly in an unsatisfying manner, and in the case of Glitch, before any sort of climax is even reached. All three stories would have benefitted from a higher page count, and I think all three worlds presented here could easily support an ongoing series if the creators desired to expand on them.
Outside of the symbolism of Shane’s powers, the metahuman aspect of Glitch is totally superfluous. We are told that Emma is a telekinetic, but it doesn’t factor into the plot at all. It’s a simple slice of life story that struggles and fails to find a narrative reason to incorporate its key conceit.
Glitch also makes the relationship between the two main characters unclear and left me with a great deal of questions – why is Shane so afraid of losing Emma’s friendship? Is he secretly in love with her? Is she a caretaker for him in some way? Again, an expanded page count could have made this story more satisfying.
Carroll’s dialogue falters a bit at the start of aL, incorporating a great deal of “technobabble” that’s hard to follow and immediately broke my immersion in the story.
WHY SHOULD YOU READ IT?
Plexus is a solid showcase for clearly talented creatives, who have shown through their output thus far that they greatly enjoy experimenting with different genres and formats. Each story features unique interior art that caters to a variety of tastes, and the stories lay the groundwork for future installments.
If you are a fan of twisty, Twilight Zone-esque science fiction that also pays tribute to modern takes like JJ Abrams’ Cloverfield series, you should find something to enjoy in Plexus.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
If you like the art:
Valerie by Rebecca Reynolds
Ocean City by Colm Griffin
Ink &. Coffee by Steve Mardo
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Paul Carroll – Writer, Art, Lettering, Cover Art
Multitalented: Paul Carroll runs Comix Ireland, a site devoted to encouraging interest “comic and geek culture” in Ireland.
Carroll is also a prose writer, with a specific interest in reinterpreting Irish folklore. The latest in his Rebirth Cycle series is The Blood of Leap.
Carroll’s work so far earned him a place on Geek Ireland’s “One to Watch” list.
Colm Griffin – Interior Art
Multitalented: Colm Griffin has been working as a VFX supervisor, character designer, and animator in the film industry for nearly a decade.
Griffin writes, draws, and colors his creator-owned series, Ocean City, which is available through Ireland’s Rogue Comics.
Award Winner: Ocean City won Best Newcomer/Breakthrough Artist/Series in the Irish Comic News Awards
Rebecca Reynolds - Interior Art, Colors, Lettering
Rebecca Reynolds recently raised €3,579 on Kickstarter from 161 backers for her webcomic Valerie, about a recent photography college dropout and her friends making unexpected discoveries in her hometown’s infamous “murder mall.” The book is available on her storenvy page.
Reynolds also cosplays as a hobby and has appeared as Goro Majima from Yakuza, and Giorno Giovanna from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, among others.
Steve Mardo – Colors and Lettering
Steve Mardo, unlike his collaborators, is based in the United States. The Rhode Island native publishes his own sequential work under his imprint Angry Baby Comics.
Mardo’s creator-owned sequential work includes Silly Boys, Big Jackson, and Sheriff Frankenstein, may of which defy genre classification.
Mardo graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a BFA in Illustration.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
The book is be available via the Limit Break Comics website
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