cover image Smart Girl

Smart Girl

Fernando Dagnino. Titan Comics, $29.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-78773-719-8

Dagnino (Blade Runner: Origins) debuts with a solo graphic novel set in a flashy cyberpunk world with little substance below its highly polished surface. Smart Girl Yuki is a “gynoid” programmed to serve and love her master Hirochi, who works for IMAI, a company that manufactures androids and gynoids for the public. Yuki gains self-awareness just as Hirochi plans to replace her with a newer model, prompting her to escape with blueprints that IMAI will stop at nothing to recover. In her quest for freedom, Yuki finds unlikely allies in an underground robot fighting ring and uncovers the secrets to her past and identity, as well as to the nature of artificial consciousness. Tailored for fans of Blade Runner, with nods also to Ghost in the Shell, the work traffics in genre signifiers, but is content to replicate them rather than twist them or give them new depth. An adventure purported to be about female emancipation is told through scenes of women fighting each other in skimpy bodysuits, while the awkward dialogue and shoehorned exposition leaves the relatively short thriller feeling a slog. The high-contrast monochromatic visuals are dynamic but cannot make up for the narrative shortcomings. This one’s for readers who want their pin-ups cybernetic, but aren’t overly concerned with fresh storytelling. (Nov.)