Divergent Dimensions 2

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Writer: RG Llarena

Artist: Axel Medellin

Cover Design: Felipe Sobreiro

Publisher:  Heavy Metal

Divergent Dimensions 2 is the reason I chose to review comics.‭ ‬More than that,‭ ‬it’s the reason I became a comic book reader.‭ ‬Reading this collection of sci fi stories instantly transported me back into my early teens when I first discovered the scope of the comic medium.‭

The stories in this collection are both challenging and brilliantly executed.‭ ‬At its best,‭ ‬sci fi is designed to impart wisdom and lessons in what makes us human under the guise of pop culture.‭ ‬From the work of H.G.‭ ‬Wells to William Gibson’s Neuromancer,‭ ‬good sci fi has always fulfilled the role of‭ ‬morality tales.‭ ‬The weakest sci fi does little more than confirm man’s sense of entitlement as the chosen species in the universe.‭ ‬Quality sci fi forces the reader to question this.‭

The stories in Divergent Dimensions 2 are varied,‭ ‬all apparently set in a similar future.‭ ‬They are linked by the theme of choice and self-awareness.‭ ‬They put forward the theory that true awareness is the enemy of senseless violence,‭ ‬bigotry and mindless obedience.

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Each story can be read on its own.‭ ‬But to do so is to deprive yourself of the full impact of the book.‭ ‬Think of the collection as a diamond – ‬each tale displays a different facet of the theme,‭ ‬the artist’s skill and the writer’s craft.‭

Another appealing aspect of Divergent Dimensions 2 is the variety of protagonists.‭ ‬Many of today’s sci fi comic books,‭ ‬movies and video games seem to be super-saturated with the concept of the chosen white male single-handedly saving the day (‬through his action or sacrifice) ‬or else pushing into the unknown frontiers,‭ ‬winning the war for humanity against unsympathetic alien beings.‭ ‬There are exceptions such as District Nine which deconstructed this myth rather than re-enforced it.‭ ‬But they are the exception rather than the rule.‭

Divergent Dimensions 2 breaks away from this.‭ ‬It features protagonists of all ages,‭ ‬races,‭ ‬genders and even species.‭ ‬From bad-ass old man gurus like Papa Loco to the alien being in the story Darwin’s Defeat,‭ ‬we are encouraged to see self-awareness and choice through a variety of different eyes.‭

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It’s as if the writer,‭ ‬RG Llarena,‭ ‬wants us to experience empathy for many different povs,‭ ‬most vastly different from our own,‭ ‬and thus help us become more self-aware in turn.‭ ‬Like all good sci fi,‭ ‬Divergent Dimensions 2 challenges the readers to try open their minds.

At the same time,‭ ‬it certainly has enough to appeal to the mass market.‭ ‬Axel Medellin’s artwork is phenomenal.‭ ‬I have long been a fan of this particular artist and he doesn’t disappoint here.‭ ‬His alien worlds and outlandish characters are beautiful rendered.‭ ‬His work is free of the unnecessary cross-hatching that clutters so much modern comic book art.‭

Expressions are delicately rendered and emotional scenes have a feeling of intimacy.‭ ‬He draws exotic creatures and dramatic moments with equal skill.‭ ‬His artwork just feels more real than the work of many other artists.‭ ‬You have a sense that these worlds and characters could exist.‭

Action scenes are dynamic.‭ ‬The figures participating have a sense of weight.‭ ‬The reader can feel the power behind a punch and more than a few readers will cringe at some of the more visceral scenes.‭ ‬The book does have a high level of violence.‭ ‬

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But the violence seldom comes across as gratuitous.‭ ‬It is either used to show the senseless brutality of the unenlightened or else it highlights the cost of making a choice.‭ ‬Because the stories make one thing clear‭ – ‬a true individual stands behind their choice;‭ ‬they face its consequences.‭ ‬And those who don’t,‭ ‬like the protagonist from “‬Those Who Accept‭”  ‬run the risk of being pulled back into mindless obedience

Writer RG Larena manages to express complex themes through simple stories.‭ ‬He handles scene changes deftly‭; ‬each story flows well.‭ ‬Without resorting to exposition,‭ ‬we are made aware of each character’s motivation and emotions.‭ ‬It’s a rare talent that makes you feel something for characters you know for only twelve pages or less.‭

This is a collection that deserves to do well,‭ ‬both critically and commercially.‭ ‬I only hope it isn’t too challenging for today’s comic book market.‭ ‬But for intelligent readers,‭ ‬this is a treat.‭ ‬A reminder that comics are much more than they’ve become and a promise of better things ahead for the comic book medium.

 

LJ Phillips
About LJ Phillips (81 Articles)
LJ Phillips is an ex-bodyguard and professional artist who has had three solo exhibitions. He has also published numerous articles and pieces of short fiction. His interests include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, over-analyzing pop culture and staring into the abyss. Currently he lives in SA and spends his free time working on his various creator-owned comics.

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