By Matt Hawkins, Raffaele Ienco, and Troy Peteri
It seems like everywhere you look these days there is a comic book telling a story about human society gone wrong and taken over by “monsters”; be they alien, robot, or zombie. While many of these post-apocalyptic stories tend to focus heavily on the struggles between these two opposing forces, Symmetry has opted to take a slightly different direction and in the process set up a very intriguing world that even after just one issue seems very much alive.
Writer Matt Hawkins described this book as “…a study in the pros and cons of Utopian Socialist ideals…” so purely conceptually it is bound to be a different book than others of this genre. Symmetry takes place in an unspecified future where humanity is governed by an advanced artificial intelligence dubbed SOL (System Optimizer for Longevity). Every aspect of humanity’s lives is ruled by this AI and the rules which it has created so that society may live constantly under its four pillars: community, peace, harmony, and equality. Robots took over all labor leaving humanity to begin living an age of peace and prosperity. Sounds pretty good right?
As it turns out, not everyone is happy with this system of living though we don’t learn much about that in this first issue. We do see a flashback of a man named Matthew being chased around a city by three robotic versions of the agents from the Matrix films (read: awesome). As we move back to the present, the narrator gives us a glimpse of the world, its rules and customs, the reproductive process – without sex, of course, because robots – the process of choosing one’s gender and name, and so much more. It’s obvious that Matt Hawkins has spent a great deal of time really putting together the pieces that would make this world cohesive. Even though these people’s way of thinking and living is so much different from ours, they are bound by some very strict rules within the story and it is fascinating.
Now if you’re thinking that reading a story about a utopian society sounds a bit on the boring side, don’t worry. In fact, the more you learn about this society’s customs and laws, the more you want to learn. No explanation is ever made of what could have happened in the past that would bring humanity to be ruled over by a highly advanced artificial intelligence, presumable willingly we would be lead to believe. Or maybe the transfer of power wasn’t so peaceful and this is the secret that Matthew was running away to keep? There is an interesting twist at the end of this first issue that may have you thinking the story may take an unexpected turn moving forward, but that remains to be seen.
What is pretty obvious from this premiere issue is that the creative team of Matt Hawkins and Raffaele Ienco have really taken the time to make something that can really differentiate itself from any other sci-fi comic book on the shelf and that’s difficult to say considering the explosion of the genre since Saga first appeared.
Hawkins’ writing manages to pull all the right emotional strings at just the right places all the while showing us the coldness and distance that exists within humanity at this time. The art by Ienco is incredible, providing this fictional setting with some very realistic art that helps the reader ground him or herself within the story. His style may sometimes make the humans appear somewhat artificial and robotic at times, but it really works in the context of the world that is being built here.
Overall, Symmetry #1 is a great start for this new series. While it may not be perfect, and parts of the book may give some readers a sense of discomfort in how this world works, it is no doubt intriguing, and Hawkins and Ienco have managed to create a living, breathing world in just one issue and that’s no easy task. It would be difficult to say whether this will be the next runaway hit for Image and Top Cow, but if the creative team continues in this direction, there is no doubt this book will develop a large following, and deservedly so. Symmetry #1 is a book you will certainly want to pick up.