All too often when reading comics and graphic novels you can pretty much anticipate the various beats and plot direction along the way. So it’s a genuine pleasure to come across a series that defies that. I certainly thought I knew what I was reading in the first book. I thought it was something else entirely during the second. By the third, I was sure I had it nailed. Come this final volume I’ve been wrong-footed again. But that’s exactly what we should be hoping for from a story. That’s what hooks us in and keeps us interested.
IAN, the robot with a human appearance, is now being hunted down by the American Government. Accused of dreadful crimes a band of Government-backed mercenaries is attempting to take him down within the swamps of Louisiana. Fortunately, this refuge is playing to his advantage, but the question is how long can his luck hold out. But there are bigger questions to be answered here, not least the need for him to discover the exact nature of the Nome and the abilities it unleashes within IAN. There’s a lot IAN needs to understand, and that means a journey north.
Stories such as IAN allow us to view our own humanity from the perspective of an individual in search of their own. It lays bare our contradictions, inconsistencies, and failures, but also our shared goals and successes. We’re not a perfect species and never can be, but it’s when we strive for something better that our humanity truly shines. The growth of AI and what that will mean for our future selves is one of the most fascinating aspects of contemporary science fiction, and IAN is another welcome addition to that broadening exploration of the idea.
I should also address the ending. The last few pages of this book took me completely by surprise and I applaud the creators for their boldness. Would this have been the conclusion delivered if the hero of the title was human? Perhaps not, but that only fuels the thought experiment conjured by the narrative.
And if you liked that: Try Vehlmann’s brilliant Green Manor books, also from Cinebook