cover image Red Lightning

Red Lightning

Marco B. Bucci and Riccardo Atzeni. Ablaze, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-68497-038-4

Bucci (the Nomen Omen series) unfurls a vibrant queer sci-fi story in this inventive and complex graphic novel. Samuel blanks out in 2016 in Bologna when he reads about David Bowie’s death­—only to come to in the year 200016, where the culture and Artzeni’s artwork lean into a Bowie-inspired glam rock feel. The current “theme” (voted on every six months) of the post-scarcity future is the “decadent 2000s.” Samuel struggles to fit into its new technologies, but he befriends Edoardo, a gender-fluid 18-year-old who wears a dinosaur suit he views as his real body. Just as he’s realizing he has feelings for Edoardo, Samuel’s phone starts working (via a temporal bug that infects devices deus-ex-tech-machina), and allows him to text his family, friends, and ex-boyfriend back in 2016. This emotional upheaval leads him to go on a journey where his interactions with “switched offs” who shun technology make him question the utopian vibes. (Bowie himself also makes a return appearance.) Atzeni’s watercolor art gives a comforting softness balanced by detailed, sometimes chaotic backgrounds. The plot trends both obscure and convenient, but the lovely art and tender feelings of the characters will sweep up readers. This is a clever love letter to Bowie and an affirming exploration of queer desires. (Aug.)