The Furnace

Prentis Rollins. Tor, $19.99 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9868-0
This ambitious solo effort by Rollins, a frequent Marvel and DC comics artist, offers an unsettling cautionary critique on the misuse of technology to further the marginalization of society’s “undesirables.” An aging physicist visiting 2052 New York City, Walton Honderich recounts his participation in a prison program that rendered supermax criminals silent and unseen. Nearly 30 years earlier, Walton, then an undergrad student, reluctantly helped brilliant-but-unstable professor Marc Lapore design the “Gard” security software. The program assigned a floating drone to released criminals, which rendered them invisible and unable to communicate and “immobilized” them if they stepped out of line—essentially enforcing eternal solitary confinement in the outside world. Through conversation and backstory, Rollins carefully crafts Walton and Marc as complex but flawed characters; Marc is a repressed gay man with outsized ambition and a self-destructive streak, while Walton is timid, overwhelmed by stunted ambition and, later, guilt. The detailed artwork is grounded in the familiar world, which makes the futuristic details pop­—such as an eerie, menacing Gard hovering above its implied captive in the middle of a beautiful, snow-covered Central Park—and the inevitable play-out of consequences feel all the more disturbing. Rollins’s strong worldbuilding lends his narrative a creeping sense of prescience, sending a provocative message about what modern society is capable of bringing about, and at what cost. Agent: Bob Mecoy, Creative Book Services. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2018
Release date: 07/10/2018
Genre: Comics
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