Written by: Kevin Abrams & Adam Moore
Illustrated by: Nicc Balce
Published by: Viper
Welcome to the future. It’s fucked. There’s this virus-thing called Moss that if it gets on you, basically just devours your flesh. Highly contagious and flat out lethal, your only hope is to lop off the offending limb or bit of you. It’s been ten years since the Moss showed up and started treating people like they were a big buffet of Jordy Verrills. But don’t worry: John J. Vendor will sell you a replacement body bit should you happen to be needing one post ad hoc surgery. And now he may have stumbled upon somebody who’s found the cure…but now she needs saving.
It’s hard to create a post-apocalyptic sci-fi world that’s both A) novel and B) works. It’s easy to string together a bunch of different bits of ideas–but not so easy to get them to work. And it’s easy to find something that works, especially if you’re treading on a well-beaten path. But Vendor is solid. It’s hard to say something as flippant as “It’s like Blade Runner but with a lot more in the way of amputation.” Because that’s just flat wrong. The idea of people running around casually lopping bits off of themselves when said bits start to turn green–and how one responds to this is such a great idea I’m going to make you read the book to find out how our lead character copes–is just so wonderfully mental. It’s so much so that even when the mental stuff goes up to eleven in the “big fight,” it’s sort of pointless to balk–because at that point, you’re in for a penny, in for a pound. Sure, go batshit nuts, you say to Abrams and Moore. We’ve made it this far.
[ad#longpost]The world is good. The characters are well crafted, especially Vendor himself–as he should be, since you have to spend so much time with him. I mean, he is a miserable bastard for the most part, but that’s one of the few general things from the fucked-up future genre you need. Especially for a story about a guy with a laser auto-cauterizing knife thingy. Balce is nice and fluid and you never lose track of what action is taking place. Some indie books I’ve seen you can’t tell what a movement did or where it came from, or the motion simply does not make sense. “How in the hell did that get there?” I don’t mean to pick on indie books, mind you–books from the Big Two generally are so poorly written I never make it to critiquing the actual art, so it may happen in them all the time.
Viper is one of those few publishers that’s like sex: the worst you’ve ever had is still pretty good. And this is better than pretty good. I would recommend picking this up especially if you dig future nightmare scenarios and like to see your detective-esque protagonists be a little off kilter from your standard fare.