Syndrome

Daniel Quantz, R.J. Ryan, Blake Leibel, and David Marquez, Archaia (www.aspcomics.com), $19.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-932386-99-8
What if science one day discovered that all evil behavior has a biological cause? What if thieves and murderers were "fixable" with a few minor adjustments to their brain chemistry? Author Quantz asks these big questions and more in a daring if too brief graphic novel. Dr. Wolfe is an obsessed neuroscientist seeking to discover the root of evil in the human brain. With the help of a genius movie set designer and a voluptuous actress, he concocts an elaborate false reality to experiment on a convicted serial killer. Think of it as The Truman Show meets Natural Born Killers. The explicit discussion of morality gives the story a Greek tragedy feel, and the intriguing cast makes for a surprisingly character-driven story. But when the author is still introducing these people in the story's second act, the book feels about 50 pages too short. It's a shame, too, since Marquez's artwork is so enjoyable. The illustrations have a visceral and sensual quality that becomes most apparent in the depiction of women and violence, bolstering the weighty themes of self-control, animal instinct, and human nature without being exploitative. The rushed ending doesn't do justice to what is otherwise a beautifully drawn and fearlessly written work of fiction. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/04/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
Genre: Comics
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