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Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead #1 (ADVANCE)

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Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead #1 (ADVANCE)

Credits

  • Words: Warren Ellis & Steve Pugh
  • Art: Steve Pugh
  • Inks: Steve Pugh
  • Colors: Steve Pugh
  • Story Title: Part One of Four
  • Publisher: Radical Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Feb 4, 2009

In a distant future that seems like an evolution of our own, Alice Hotwire is a Detective Exorcist. An officer of the law who handles Blue-Lights, ghosts who operate on some kind of electromagnetic frequency and have become a regular part of life in City Central.

Warren Ellis is known for his tales of dystopian futures, conspiracies and the corruption of power. All of those elements are present in this futuristic take on the idea of Ghostbusters. City Central itself is a mix of urban sprawl gone horribly wrong as old brick buildings in the Old Town are too close together for vehicles. Bums wander around being hijacked by the London Fog, a murk of ghosts too weak to manifest but powerful enough to possess the weak minded. Meanwhile in the metropolis, there are nightmarish sky rises like some Kubrick set gone awry. Cleansed and angular, this is the future visual media has often promised.

Underneath the marvels of the age - helicopters that appear to float and the future of Japanese design in automobiles - there is trouble brewing. Recent police actions have been televised through a leak, possibly Hotwire herself, and riots are spreading across the city like some kind of pan-epidemic.

The riots have set everyone on edge. The police of course are especially agitated. Those most adversely affected in the events that lead up to the violence are kept in close guard at the station or, in the case of Officer Mobey, are not suspended, merely "without assignment."

The hero of the story is one Alice Hotwire, a difficult, smart and arrogant woman. When a case goes against the science she prides herself on, it sends her reeling. Rules are the makeup of her life. She passionately pleas with the reader that they define her. In a way they do, they have no meaning to her, but if anyone else breaks them she will call them on it.

Of course this attitude means that she is the reason she is prime suspect in the eyes of her fellow officers for leaking the story. A violent confrontation in the department leads to a reluctant but sexually tense partnership with her assailant, Mobey.

The mystery of the opening case gives her an excuse to blog about her experiences and the reader is given a nifty narrative exposition. The world is laid out expertly for all to see. Pugh scripts a masterful tale from Mr. Ellis’s plot. His consummate skill displays the disdain for Hotwire, while showing her methodical mind set and passion for her work.

This is a dense work that throws a lot out in a short space. However, it brings the reader along for the ride, making sure that they are constantly up to speed. Seems he has not lost any of the ability that made him a star in the English world of comics. Of course, he and Ellis have collaborated for years and this leads to a seamless integration of ideas. They are a pairing that works well together.

The painted style of the book is amazing. It allows Pugh to work with light in any manner of settings. The ghosts are eerie. The action is crisp and coherent. The layouts dynamic and easily followed. It is all dynamic and realistic looking, even if there are things that might boggle the mind.

Hotwire is off to a great start. It is like an amalgamation of the noirish future of Blade Runner and a straight hard sci-fi approach to Ghostbusters. It is another notch in both of these creators' extremely lauded careers with a broad appeal that should unite some of more segregated genre minded readers.

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