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"Lonely Receiver #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by AfterShock Comics


Written by Zac Thompson
Illustrated by Jen Hickman
Lettered by Simon Bowland
2020, 38 Pages, $4.99
Comic released on September 2nd, 2020


What will relationships be like in the future? How will we interact with each other as technology continues to grow and change, becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives? Perhaps you won't have to have a relationship with another human being at all. Maybe it can all be artificial.

Lonely Receiver plays with this idea, although it may seem like ground that's been covered in other areas. The difference here is that it not only questions what's real or human, but it takes it down new and unsettling avenues. The comic centers on Catrin, a woman who purchases an artificial intelligence partner. Things start out fine, but over time the two disconnect, despite the promise of being bonded for life. This sends Catrin into a tailspin from which she may never recover.

Now, you may be reading this and thinking it sounds like a weird sci-fi romance story and that is certainly part of it. Writer Zac Thompson pulls us into the relationship between these two, so you fully understand the deep connection they share. It's full and beautiful...and then it's torn apart. It might be tough, but think of your last break up and where your mind was during it. Did you do anything outlandish? Or maybe you said something you would never utter under normal circumstances. Now ratchet that up a million-fold and you have the kind of intensity we're dealing with in Lonely Receiver.

Click images to enlarge

Thompson raises all sorts of questions about what is real and what constitutes life, as we're dealing with an artificial person. This leads to some chilling concepts that really reach a climax at the end of this issue. Artist Jen Hickman captures Catrin's spiral into madness well. There's this fantastic shot towards the end of this chapter where we get a closeup of her face with one bloodshot eye, then several smaller panels with similar shapes, like another eye is opening up, either metaphorically within her or someone – or something – else finally seeing her.

A highlight of Lonely Receiver #1 comes when Catrin makes her artificial intelligence purchase. We see her partner built in front of her with organs, bones, muscles, and skin forming before her, like a cross section of a human being. It's rather disturbing and strikes a perfect chord for the uneasy nature of the story itself.

The world of Lonely Receiver is lush and plentiful. Hickman's colors are vibrant with swirling pinks, purples, and greens, lending themselves to the sci-fi aspect of the book, as well as the unnatural elements we're dealing with. This contrasts nicely with the lack of color seen at the end of this issue, like something devoid of any life.

Click images to enlarge

These last pages also feature some intriguing work from letterer Simon Bowland, adding to the questions that have arisen as to whatever strangeness Catrin has tapped into. This debut issue introduces us to these characters, this world, and the overall concept with ease, surrounding us with all of these elements, then pulling the rug out from under us just as we're getting comfortable. I am very curious as to what twists and turns await us in the next chapters.

While everyone is cooped up inside due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lonely Receiver is a very relevant and chilling examination with our obsession and relationship with technology. I have many questions and I'm unsure about some parts of the book, but I am very entertained. I'll definitely be back for more of this unsettling story.


Story: fourstars Cover
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Art: fourstars
Overall: 4  Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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