Written by Tim Daniel, Jeremy Holt
Art by Joshua Gowdy
Published by Monkeybrain Comics
Release Date: April 16, 2014
From World of Warcraft to Skyrim and many of the realities existing in video games or people who are catfishing others via social media, humanities ability to live beyond the borders of reality continue to grow. Monkeybrain’s latest comic takes this to a societal conclusion in Skinned with the tagline, “Because reality is a disease.”
The setting is cView City, a place where anything you’d like to see, or at least can afford to see, becomes reality through technology called “Iris” and the hardware implanted into their eyes at birth, “occup-eye.” Computerized contact-lens change everyone’s perception along with other reality changers are available for a price… or a hack. Since the affluent can afford to see whatever they wish, artist Joshua Gowdy meets the challenging role of creating this multifaceted realities that change in any given panel. He also helps to keep you grounded in the identity of each character. Using a combination of facial markers and slight variations in coloring, Gowdy does a great job of helping readers keep track of the story despite the every changing scenery, styling and clothing. There are a few panels where the main male character, Bouy, takes on very effeminate facial traits, looking just like the female lead character, Aldair. That makes you question if there is a bigger reveal later in the storyline. However, that question is resolved when, what readers have to assume is reality, makes a glitch induced appearance.
Tim Daniel and Jeremy Holt show the elite and the struggling in society via two distinct main characters that you know, without a doubt, will come to share a common bond. Pieces are quickly set in place to rebellious youth to take their marks in future issues. The rich girl is teamed up with the kid from the wrong part of the city, via a life “opportunity” that is flat out subjugation of the poor (by agreeing to be almost a companion or entertainer for the rich.) While this storyline might sound 1980s romantic comedy, it reads like a medieval drama. The positions Aldair finds herself fighting in society and the flippant choices Bouy makes, to show that no one should care about the choices of the elite will create waves in Aldair’s class. Also, there is the unnerving presence of Iris, the looming computerized head of “occup-eye.” It makes you wonder if she will become even more hostile or end up being bent to the hacking skills of Bouy later in the series.
Skinned opens doors to philosophical questions about just is reality, when you cannot trust your eyes, and what that is worth to shaping human nature. There are plenty of questions raised about which characters will end up playing the roles of helpers or hinders to our pair of lead characters and if they goals are merely localized in freeing their own lives or will create a larger societal impact. The best part is, if you don’t want to bog yourself down with heavy questions like this, there is a basic relationship vs. the world story with mind-bending art for you to enjoy.
The Verdict: 8.5/10
Skinned is available digitally via Comixology.