The first issue of Fraser Campbell’s Alex Automatic was something of a revelation as it introduced a frantic & fresh take on the spy genre so it’s no surprise that I was suitably hyped to see it smash through its recent Kickstarter and ensure that a second issue would hit print.
While Fraser eased us into the almost schizophrenic world of Alex in that first issue, the topsy-turvy flip between the spy world & the real world had blurred lines which gave it a bittersweet twinge but that seemed to be cast aside as this second issue opened. Normalcy beckons for Alex as he goes through the motions but we’re soon cast back to the messed up world that we know lurks in his mind.
Realistic threats soon become a frenzied mirage of his own making and as we drift from world to world at the klick of some fingers it’s clear that Fraser is keen to mess with our heads just as much as he is with his main protagonist……and for a second time. The built-up city gives way to the steamy jungle and as AI apes set their sights on Alex it’s clear that his disjointed grip of reality is just as intoxicating as it was in that first issue. Reality and unreality become entangled together but with a steady momentum that gives the pace of the book the familiar edge of risk that was created in the opener.
There’s still a mission at its core with the evil Bokeh playing out his plan to conquer the world and add Alex to his minions along the way but our hero wrestles with his demons both inside & out to try to settle into the reality that he’ll survive in. It’s more glorious story-telling from Fraser and with James Corcoran back on art with David B Cooper on colours the rich visuals remain consistent, confusing and captivating. Aditya Bidikar adds the lettering this time around and does a cracking job of keeping the narrative, dialogue and plot flowing.
This ends up feeling like a cult comic that’s almost ahead of its time with its ideas which in itself feels like a strange combination given the distinct vibe that’s very much in an old school spy story style. The well suited creative team work well in tackling a title where the central character is struggling with his own sanity and it a cruel way it feels like a truly entertaining read to see things unfold. Gloriously stylized with a bittersweet edge – it all just works in keeping a character like Alex Automatic perfectly imperfect.
You can pick up the latest issue of Alex Automatic on its debut at the Thought Bubble event this weekend as well as picking it up through the Cabal Comics online store. You can also keep tabs on what’s next over on the Facebook page.