Written by Bri
“I think I met the man of my dreams tonight, and you know what…? It really sucked”
- Lexy Ryan
NEW ROMANCER caught my attention for two reasons. First, by way of a great review from Paul Dini on the cover, and second the “suggested for mature readers” disclaimer. “Comic smut that somehow involves the modern world and romantic historical characters?! Sign me up!”, I thought. I greedily dove into the first issue to discover that I was wrong, but in the most pleasant of ways. I discovered a comic narrative that focused on one of my biggest fantasies, a character or person from the past brought to life, but in a new, clever and non-idealistic way. No smut here, but there are innuendos and language used that are certainly for mature readers.
Who hasn’t wanted to bring a character they loved to life? I know I have. When I was younger, I read ALL the time. My imagination was boundless, endless, all consuming, and never sated. I loved books. I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on. I wanted to be a character in all of the books I read, and as I grew into the obsessive hormonal mind of a teenage girl, I began to love characters in books as though they were real.
It took time to realize, and even longer to acquiesce that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, “NO ONE, can love -insert character/fandom here- as much as I do!” my heart would protest when I would hear others talk about my obsessions. In time, I recognized kindred spirits in these fellow obsessives. We could love the characters in our own way and still celebrate our affection for them with each other. It was these connections, the mutual love of literature, limitless imagination; friends who understood and had experienced the same feelings, who became my closest and most trusted companions in life.
The trouble with imagination is, the idealization of a character or person in your mind is often based on fantasy and perception with little to no factual basis, and rarely includes character flaws. No one is perfect, not even someone you’ve created in your own mind. This begs the question, if you actually met the person you created, would they be able to stay on the pedestal you placed them on?
Dear Reader, it is here that we find the connection of these memories, musings, and the ultimate gratification I found in Peter Milligan and Brett Parson’s comic NEW ROMANCER.
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist/Cover: Brett Parson
Letterer: Todd Klein
After being fired from Incubator, Silicon Valley’s hottest tech company, Lexy Ryan finds herself working for a dating website called, “New Romancer”. Lexy is a brilliant, romantic, and awkward 24 year old struggling to help the New Romancer site to success with a “new” personality matching algorithm. Using an A.I. program she stole from Incubator in tandem with her own “persona” creating algorithm, Lexy accidentally and unknowingly brings her long time obsession, Lord Byron, to life in the Incubator labs. When Lexy meets “the man of her dreams” she is dismayed to find he is not the ideal beau she had in her mind, but a true flesh and blood man with faults and flaws, and Lexy’s actions have further repercussions in the Incubator labs. Lord Byron wasn’t the only “persona” who was brought to life, but another profile she had created has come to life, and he has a dark side. We’ll talk more about him in the next issue.
Lexy is genuine, smart, quirky, and a true hopeless romantic. Her proclamations on romanticism seemed to have been plucked straight from my heart and I had an immediate connection with her. Lord Byron is pompous, funny, and author Peter Milligan doesn’t shy away from showing all sides of his personality. Byron ranges from charming and vulnerable to vulgar and sexist, which serves as a coy counterpoint to Lexy’s romantic ideals.
The supporting cast of characters on the New Romancer team aren’t prominent this issue aside from a scene with Lexy’s current boss, Raj, where we learn more about Lexy’s romantic ideals than we do about him. Lexy also has a brief conversation with one of her New Romancer co-workers, but his name isn’t revealed. There are a few glimpses of the “baddies” at Lexy’s former employer, Incubator, but most of their motivations are still cloaked in shadow, it will be interesting to see how their actions come into play.
Brett Parson’s artwork skillfully blends twenty-first century characters and locations with color palettes that are reminiscent of the New Romantic movement of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, a theme that plays more heavily into the story in later issues. Main characters and the settings they visit are rooted in reality through use of neutral, cool and earth tones, while characters from the past are dressed vibrantly in bright and neon colors which stand out amongst the muted scenery. His character’s are expressive and unique, his artwork is an asset and enhancement to the story.
I loved that Peter Milligan focuses on the flaws of the “personas” brought to life as a reminder to be careful what we wish for, and Brett Parson’s depictions of said characters fit perfectly to drive the message home. While the first issue is mostly exposition, it gives the reader plenty of incentive to come back for more in the last few pages, and the last full-page panel is spectacular.
I was thrilled to find this comic, not only because of its subject matter, but also because this was the first comic series that I “discovered” on my own. It was a cathartic experience after many years of being surrounded by the comics culture, but never truly feeling a part of it, to find something that was so “me”. So, if you’re a comic fan who is romantic and has a love of literature, pick up this book and join me in my latest obsession: NEW ROMANCER.