After Fraser Campbell released his impressive Sleeping Dogs under the Cabal Comics banner the next title was always going to be one worth checking out and after a strong Kickstarter campaign Alex Automatic became a reality.
It tells the story of Alex Anderson, a Government agent who is taken into an illegal programme that messes with his mind and grafts skills directly into his brain. This leaves Alex a broken shell of a man and the damage is obvious from the outset as his reality becomes a jumbled mess of truths & lies that are all blurred together. Alex’s mental state leaves him trapped in a delusional world where he’s the star of a 70’s TV show and super-spy Alex Automatic deals out justice with his hands, guns & gadgets.
Central to this issue is the race against the clock to free Alex by reporters Colin & Alice and with multiple parties interested in Alex and making sure he’s prevented from spilling any secrets, it’s a hard task to figure out who is really on his side. The blend between real world & delusional one makes this a far more complex read than first expected and while the flip between the two can be jarring at time it works because of the main characters mental state. Slick move from Fraser on that one!
The tension is tangible as the crazy world in Alex’s mind unfolds and the team does a great job at sustaining momentum with just enough dialogue & narrative to build sympathy towards the protagonist. The creative team working alongside Fraser includes James Corcorran on art, David B. Cooper on colours & Colin Bell on lettering and that combo has the style covered well as it nestles somewhere between nostalgic recreation of some of the most recognized spy-show elements and an all out assault on your senses in line with what poor Alex is going through. There’s an air of Shaky Kane about the look of the book in the end but it stands on its own creative feet as it helps bolster the plot.
I had my doubts that there wasn’t much new ground that could be covered in a spy story but Alex Automatic somehow manages to brush that idea aside with relative ease. The longer length of the issue helps reduce any confusing impact that Alex’ experiences could have and with the hectic pace and in-form creative team bringing this opener to a suitable, if somewhat bittersweet, conclusion we’re left with a story that lingers. Given the theme of messing with the brain it’s like they’ve just recruited us…..the sneaky gits. A strong start and it’s been great to hear that there will be more on the way too. Count me in for that.