“What Kind of Porn App Punches You In The Face?”
by Peter Bagge
Dark Horse Originals
review by BK Munn
This new series from Peter Bagge finds the creator in fine low-key satire mode, letting his timeless rubbery drawing style carry much of the weight in terms of character and humour. Black and white with grey-tones is the medium Bagge first made his name in with Neat Stuff and the early Hate, and the variety of pattern and line he brings to his schlubby figures here is testament to this. Of course, Bagge’s expressive cartooning always goes hand-in-hand with great dialogue, and luckily most of his protagonists have been great talkers, their unique obnoxious voices providing clues to deep-seated neuroses and weird personal hobbyshorses.
The plot of Reset follows washed up Hollywood B-List comedian Guy Krause, who after a series of minor scandals finds himself unemployable and in court-mandated rehab when he is approached by a team of scientists with a crazy job offer: test out a virtual reality product that lets the user relive his life from a set point in the past as a form of therapy. Backed into a corner, the cantankerous Krause hits the reset button and tries to see where his life took a wrong turn, starting with his highschool graduation. Of course, there’s lots more going on, like the nebulous conspiracy-style corporate origins of the project, and Krause’s own inability to examine his own life or personality objectively, but the basic science-fiction layout of the story follows in concept from Bagge’s previous outing with Dark Horse, 2008’s Apocalypse Nerd, which grafted a humourous character study onto a sci-fi plot. Where that book swapped out a tech geek for the usual survivalist superhero of sf cliche, Reset subs a resentful middle-aged asshole for the usual plucky butt-kicking time-traveler. The point of the exercise being not genre originality (the plot trappings are sort of a Total Recall-Back to the Future combo that also remind me of the recent Canadian tv drama Being Erica), but a parody of same, complete with clunky VR gear and a Bagge-ian approximation of 8-bit graphics, that is set up to examine themes of technology, celebrity culture, and memory in a familiar, genre-fan-friendly way. This is the first of a 4-issue series that will probably end up as a book, but fans of Bagge and funny genre mash-ups who are looking for a monthly fix in floppy format might want to check it out.