Transhuman is AMBITIOUS.
The opening set-up makes it clear that there is a big story to tell, and this is just a taste of what’s to follow. And it’s a solid opening to what will hopefully be a long and fascinating series.
Transhuman #1 Rivka’s Story introduces us to a world in the near future, where the technology now exists to greatly enhance people’s lives with direct human-machine interfaces. And asks the question: should we? Early on we meet a cast of characters who represent different sides of the debate about whether we should, and by how much, and for what purposes.
The Battle Over Transhumanism
This is a very real concept, and a debate that is happening today in our world, if not quite as mainstream as in this story. A Transhumanism movement exists within real-world academic and tech circles, and many share the Utopian vision of the main advocate of the technology in Transhuman. He’s a slick, smooth talking, Silicon Valley type who goes head-to-head with a preacher representing the “No” side.
It’s a classic Science vs God scenario, and as a convenient world-building technique, it works. It allows the main points of the debate to be exposed quickly and succinctly, except the debate isn’t hypothetical.
Rivka, the story’s titular character, is a Transhuman. She’s an already-augmented top-secret Israeli super soldier who just happens to be a really hot chick despite her scars.
The origin of her technical augmentations is the Israeli army, where she was wounded trying to save a young girl from a bomb during her tour of duty. She was put back together with bionic parts and advanced AI. However, she is still very human, and the story explores her detailed back-story in great depth, much of it relating to her personal life.
Rivka is the embodiment of everything the Preacher fears, with good reason. She’s an arse-kicking killing machine. The action sequences involving Rivka are packed with action and weapons and advanced technology - and they’re fun.
Why Transhuman is Genuinely Enjoyable
The rest of the story revolves around the conflict between the preacher and the techie, with Rivka playing a vital role. It’s a good story, which sets up what will hopefully be a much bigger story.
The main problem with it is that it’s full of tropes. Even though the story is quite original, everything felt a bit derivative - a bit too familiar. It’s got bits of X-Men and bits of Terminator, and bits of The Six Million Dollar Man (I know, I’m showing my age). The characters are all characters we’ve seen before, with familiar back stories; sometimes a little too familiar.
Much of the dialogue is cheesy and cliched, but, and it’s a big, important but, the characters have genuine depth, and they draw you into the story. The art is excellent, and that draws you in even further. It also sets up a much bigger story in a way that is genuinely engaging, and intriguing.
I want to know what happens next. I want to see where this is going and I want to know when the next edition will be on Kickstarter because I want to back it. It’s a genuinely enjoyable read.
There’s a complexity to the story telling here that means a few familiar elements can be forgiven. There’s a lot to get across, and familiar elements make that process more efficient.
I hope the next issue delves deeper into the types of technologies being developed, and plays with the ambiguity of who is the good guy and who is the bad guy in all of this.
Clearly a lot of work has gone into this book. It’s a solid intro to the world with hints of things to come. And I’m excited about the possibilities.
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