“UXB” can stand for a lot of things, but in Colin Lorimer’s new graphic novel it stands for a dark and comic look about losing your humanity. Lorimer does double duty on this ambitious piece. Telling the story of three brothers who survived a massive genocide thanks to the life suits their parents designed just for them. This is an interesting story about surviving the death of humanity while losing the elements that made you human in the first place.
“UXB” has incredibly compelling art. Sketched with insane detail and handled with the utmost care the main trio of characters Das, Muc, and Rifter virtually explode off the opening pages. Lormier gives special attention to introductions, and it’s a helpful tool, defining each of the protagonists right away. Yet, we can’t help but have this certain sense of curiosity. These men have large suits hanging from their midsections, they enter the story like kings, and they seem to be the only humans left.
Lorimer takes a step back. He shows the genesis of how things came to be. Humanity as we know it is dead. Wiped out by genocide. Under the surface of the Earth Das, Muc, and Rif find themselves the subjects of clinical trails. Preparing them for survival in the harsh outside world. They are given suits. Suits, which feed them, empower them, and give them endless entertainment.
First they are resistant, but as we already know, they eventually throw the suits on. Lorimer uses this opportunity to explore the age-old adage from Uncle Ben. Great power and great responsibility, you know the one. The wasteland of London serves to house these supermen as they wander around taking what they please.
Lorimer’s art of the wasteland is absolutely stunning. The sheer level of detail involved in creating his destroyed landscapes is staggering to think about. What’s more is the level of detail involved in the suits themselves. The apparatus that hangs around the boys is alien, oblong, and oddly alluring. It’s cumbersome but Lorimer makes it appealing.
In the end the story starts to falter. Instead of focusing on what it means to have a tool define you, Lorimer opts to tell a story of revenge. A plot that never feels earned. The final chapters feel like the conclusion to another story that we never were part of. Instead the most interesting aspects of the narrative are left with little to no resolution.
The witty dialogue does a lot to establish character. However the characters never really do much to make them likable protagonists. They never really have any in depth conversations in regards to their humanity. We understand that they are angry, but only in the beginning. After years these heroes must have something to say about their suits. Yet, Lorimer pushes past it in light of other “funnier” things.
The most interesting aspect of this book, is the one it ends on. To survive past humanity, these heroes had to sacrifice everything that made them human. They became something else – something alien in order to persist. They never really contemplate this fact, nor do they ever really question why they were chosen. It all feels profoundly simple. Which is all well and good if the other plot points were compelling enough, but here they are not.
“UXB” offers an incredible premise and some breathtaking art. The story meanders to the finish line, but the art carries the book on its shoulders. Together the result is a mixed bag, it’s not really a story you haven’t read before, but it’s a story you haven’t seen before. Which is to say – it’s beautiful. Such is the curse of doing double duty.
With all of that in mind, the final panel of the novel offers a beautiful tease for the future. Something I wish was explored a little more in the body of the book, but something so alluring that I would have to come back if the story was continue. “UXB” won’t really push you to the edge of your seat, but it will provide a compelling albeit forgettable afternoon read.
Rating: 2.5/5 Skulls