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7174 AD #1
Image Comics

Comic Books

‘7174 AD #1’ is exciting, incomprehensible, and delightful

A remarkable and obtuse dive into something both unknowable and unreasonable.

It can’t be said that the comics work of TP Louise and Ashley Wood – at least the output released since the pair announced their Image imprint, Sygygy – isn’t exciting. Jam-packed with style and dynamic concept, the 7174 AD Annual and Tales of Syzpense titles have all been coffee table art books in comic book format, each page featuring some fascinating robot, pinup, or ghoul.

Which is to say, 7174 AD #1 isn’t exactly what a reader might expect comics to be. Even at their most narratively structured and comic-format straightforward, the strips presented by Louise and Ashley come off more as elaborate concept sketches than actual stories.

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7174 AD #1

Image Comics

The breakdown doesn’t rest at the feet of either creator, but somehow both: Louise, the writer of the books, scarcely has room to present a naturally progressing narrative atop Wood’s lush but hyperactive, experimental art – character and concept get mixed up in style and abstraction.

To get caught up in 7174 AD #1’s refusal to look like, feel, or work like a standard comic book (or strip) seems to be missing the point. The two strips in the issue, “Duo Star Racers” and “Miss and Mrs.”, all but admonish the reader for expecting anything traditional. You can get that elsewhere, after all: there are dozens of issues landing on comic racks this week (a dozen even from Syzygy publisher, Image Comics), almost all of which are willing to keep you safe in your easily digested sequential art.

7174 AD #1

Image Comics

“Duo Star Racers” and “Miss and Mrs.” aren’t wholly opaque; “Racers” provides the book’s closest attempt to creating a definable world and narrative, introducing us to two characters (a mechanic and…his boss, maybe?) and a city where people engage in a form of dangerous street racing while wearing (or riding?) some sort of mechanical monstrosity. It’s an electric conceit, a sort of eclectic adoption of manga/anime aesthetic buried beneath Wood’s swirling action.

7174 AD #1

Image Comics

“Miss and Mrs.” looks more like a comic, embracing a horizontal six-grid, like two daily newspaper strips stacked atop one another. Of the two stories, however, it’s the most incomprehensible – our titular protagonists are prone to garbled and poetic dialogue, their journey and conflict more tone-poem than representative. One of them is abducted (or perhaps abstracted to meaninglessness) by a cartoonish, robotic jokester known as a Nabbler. A soybean serves as an explosive device, and a skeleton cosmonaut struggles through a black nothingness.

7174 AD #1

Image Comics

Things refuse to cohere, everything is artistic play over function. It’s a truly remarkable – and obtuse – dive into something both unknowable and unreasonable. The reader doesn’t appear to be expected to grapple logistics so much as be bombarded by concept, expected to forego the concrete for the creative.

7174 AD is an artistic artifact, a pulpy objet d’art. Perhaps later issues will help clarify things, but that seems unlikely. To subscribe to the worlds of 7174 AD is to subscribe to abstraction and play.

7174 AD #1
‘7174 AD #1’ is exciting, incomprehensible, and delightful
7174 AD #1
Endlessly creative but narratively obtuse, 7174 AD continues the creative team's trend toward artistic exploration over 'comic book' function.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.7
Visually beautiful and entrancing.
Bizarre and compelling concepts.
Pushes the form of the medium.
Hard to grasp.
Likely to be polarizing to an average comics fan.
8
Good
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