You’d think a futuristic horror romance comic wouldn’t really be the right fit for as day as awful as this post-election day (in America…obviously), and maybe that’s half right. It certainly feels like a ridiculous day to be writing a review of one, even while I recognize that entertainment can be a form of self care and a pushing against the bad feelings or whatever. And typically, I’d just shove all that aside and sit down and pound out a few hundred words about a comic I enjoyed or didn’t enjoy and be done with it. It’s fine, I’m fine, or okay, maybe sort of. The thing about horror, or at least good horror, though, is that those feelings you don’t like and don’t want to have are integral to the genre. It’s why Lonely Receiver #3 is so effective, even while it isn’t always because of what’s on the page so much.
For instance, today the U.S. is going through an historic election, yes, but it also officially marks the country’s exit from the Paris Climate Agreement — meaning, the planet that may already be hurt beyond fixing is now being opened to more damage. An existential threat to the future of this human thing is being ignored. All of which is to say that the horror future of Lonely Receiver #3 feels more optimistic than it may have been intended to be.
This isn’t Zac Thompson, Jen Hickman, or Simon Bowland’s fault, of course, and it doesn’t hurt the story: I think it makes me more engaged and interested. It’s a personal story that focuses strongly on just a few women in this future world, but because it’s investigating other parts of our modern life it feels appropriate that I’m also pushed to think of ideas that aren’t directly spoken on.
And that’s the thing. This comic is extremely not about the environment, or about the government, but it feels so personal that I can’t help but immediately relate it to all the parts of my life. It’s framed in such a way that Catrin feels like a version of me, even if it’s skewed. She doesn’t just feel like she’s crazy or unrealistic, even when she feels unbalanced and manic. I won’t say her actions feel reasonable, but the story builds them in such a way that they’re understandable.
Really, my opinion is that much of the book needs to be experienced, especially for Jen Hickman’s art. They’re art is particularly suited for horror, I think, but there’s a gentleness about the line work that just works, and the colors are an expert’s example of how to control tone and pace throughout a comic.
Now, I will say, to counter some of my effusive praise of this book, it will have to walk a tricky line going forward. This series absolutely works when it’s looking at relationships and breakups, but if it starts to overly focus on our relationship with technology, I think it’ll lose me a little bit. It’s not a bad metaphor, but I think being about one thing is fine, especially when they’re doing this weird future horror romance so well. Basically, if this is a kind of reveal of what the comic is actually about, I think future issues won’t work as well for me, but if it’s just a tertiary metaphor then I’m still confident that this is the best series of the year.
Lonely Receiver is still on track to be my favorite comic of the year, with an issue where Jen Hickman gets to shine.
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