After already being blown away with the collected edition of Drugs & Wires I knew there would be a time when I had to read more and after picking up the three parts to it’s prequel, Blue Pill Arcade, I was all set.
We’re back in 1993 and while the nostalgic elements are there you’d expect, the futuristic edges of a dystopian world are still very much flexing their influence on everything that’s unfolding. The world of VR plays heavily in the lives of our two main characters as Dan’s day job working in an Arcade after adopting VR early and Eve’s group of VR friends brings the unlikely pair together. Crossing paths is a good thing though as the blossoming relationship is the anchor to the real world for the whole series and as the Virtual elements drift in, the blurred line becomes an intriguing one for them both.
As they get to know each other better they inevitably want to spend more time together and while that causes Eve some grief with her group of friends, there’s less of a pressure on Dan with his focus on work & his own substance dependence making him a bit more of a loner at first. There are plans a foot that involve them all though and with a shared goal of sticking it to the man there’s a smooth set of ideas that are ready to put in motion….before hitting them with all kinds of problems when things go wrong.
While that drives the story forward exceptionally well, it’s the interactions between Eve & Dan that give things a strong heart and with all the awkwardness & vulnerability that flows between them so freely, it’s an endearing glimpse of hope in some of the bleakest sections that we see. A curious mix of characters appear across those three issues and as they come & go there’s a definite levelling-up of the depth that the whole world manages to contain.
The story from Io Black & Mary Safro is as multi-layered as I’d expected but the real hook of the central pair of Dan & Eve makes this something special. As much for the romance between the two with it’s subtle edges as it is for the VR themed world that gives escapism a whole new meaning. Visually it’s got a slick level of detail that manages to capture the grime of the time & surroundings, alongside the glow & hope of the love between the central pair and as all those elements drift around each other things build to a strong ending.
Another amazing addition to the cyberpunk creation of Io & Mary and with the potential that’s injected into both this and Drugs & Wires, there’s potential for much more from this particular creative combo. Story & art to get lost in and a cast of characters that feel like they’re steeped in the struggles of a world that’s probably more familiar than we’d like to admit.
Check out the website for more info on the world that’s been created and get hold of physical copies on their online store or digitally through the Patreon or Gumroad. You can also check in with the creators on the links below too: