Behold the futuristic city of Delphi. A marvel of technology, Delphi is controlled by The Rulers – an upper-class of those gifted with the power to navigate The Stream.
The Stream is the collective hive-mind of humanity, containing all the currents of human thought, imagination and information. Through The Stream, The Rulers control every aspect of the lives of their followers like the gods of old. Indeed, The Rulers – who hide their true faces behind ornate masks – take their names from the ancient gods.
Enter Seneca – a young digital forensics investigator in the Delphi Police Force. Raised in the traditions of The Trinity Church, Seneca left them after the death of his mother. Now nominally sworn to serve The Rulers of Delphi, Seneca doesn’t quite trust the Olympian-themed Rulers either.
Thankfully Seneca’s boss – The Ruler Hermes – doesn’t take offense at Seneca’s cynicism. Hermes is the sort to prefer honest criticism to faint praise hiding fear. He also enjoys Seneca’s tendency to question everything and not settle for easy answers.
Seneca’s dark nature hides a darker secret – one he hides from even his girlfriend, Jess. Occasionally he hears a voice. Not voices – just a singular voice. Seneca’s secret may be tied to his latest case – the mysterious murder of three Trinity clerics, their tongues count out in a ritualistic manner. But what is the connection? And why has Seneca attracted the attention of The Ruler known as Apollo?
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Born of the same cyberpunk roots that inspired the Blade Runner films and the Deus Ex video game series, God Complex #1 offers a disturbing view of a future not too far removed from our own. Self-made, digitally-savvy gods manipulate our perceptions from a virtual reality beyond our conception. This fact doesn’t bother most people, however, with the teeming masses content to move from moment to moment, throwing their energies into worship of their icons or unthinking hedonism.
Our protagonist, Seneca, is different. Cut from the same mold as Rick Deckard and Henry Case, Seneca is the classic cyberpunk anti-hero. He feels an uneasy emptiness inside but cannot give voice as to why. He sees himself as standing apart from the common clay, yet seeks connection with others. He sees the futility of his bleak existence but longs to lose that awareness rather than change his circumstances.
Writer Paul Jenkins (Hellblazer, Wolverine: Origin,The Sentry) does a fantastic job of bringing Bryan Lie’s concept to life. While there’s not much in this first chapter’s story beyond the standard cyberpunk tropes, the concept of The Rulers is novel enough to encourage hope in this series’ future. Jenkins also has a great ear for dialogue and Seneca’s internal monologues perfectly suit the future noir aesthetic of the story.
The artwork by Hendry Prasetya and Jessica Kholinne proves equally inspiring, establishing a world that is full of bright lights and visible noise yet seems shrouded in darkness and decay. Their visualization of The Stream bears mentioning, seemingly inspired by William Gibson’s Neuromancer and the concept of ICE, with The Stream appearing as motes of light flowing through the air, forming a second world lain over the real one.
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.