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Delliquanti, Blue – O Human Star Volume Three


O Human Star Volume Three

You know, this is my third review in this series (out of three books), and I don’t think I’ve included this disclaimer yet: these reviews are being done by a cisgender guy with the best of intentions, so if I’ve made a mistake in using a gender pronoun, please send me an email and I’ll correct it. I feel like it’s relevant to mention this now, because the conclusion naturally left a lot of the gender identity questions up in the air. If you haven’t been reading the series (and shame on you if that’s the case), I’ll briefly sum things up. Alastair Sterling’s consciousness gets brought back to life after his physical body was deceased for several years, but the identity of who’s done this is a mystery. Alastair was in a relationship with Brendan when he died, so Brendan built a humanoid robot with the partial consciousness of Alastair in them. This robot, as they aged, decided that they weren’t a man at all, so they transitioned to female. Which, naturally, raised all sorts of questions in both Brendan and the returned full consciousness of Alastair. All caught up? That’s great and all, but you should really read the previous two graphic novels to have a hope to catch up on the hundreds of pages of nuance that I just glossed over. Anyway, this volume starts off with an extended sequence about the creation and early years of Sulla, and the natural but confusing (to her and Brendan) realization that they were really female. This also covers some of the advances in robotics, AI and human part replacement technology, which also answered a few questions I still had rattling around in my brain. From there we go back to modern day (which is the future of the people reading this, obviously), and things there are grim. The last volume ended with Sulla (who was passing as human) outing herself to her friends by flying and Alastair running away (as everything going on was just too much for him). This is right around the point in the volume where I run into a brick wall, because the answers start coming pretty quickly at this point, and I’d be a real jerk to reveal them all in a review. I’ll just say that I’m sitting here, trying to think of something that was left unanswered, and I can’t come up with anything. I’d call that a solid ending, wouldn’t you? We do get the answer of who brought Alastair back, and I have to say that it’s not somebody who was on my list of suspects. So, again, kudos on a genuinely surprising ending. Blue also includes a short story about Lucille, who really gets the chance to shine in this volume. So after all is said and done, am I recommending this series? Yes, absolutely, why do you think I’ve been praising the bejesus out of this for three volumes? The scientific and ethical questions alone are worth the price, but the gender questions layered on top of that (and placed in a world where sentient past consciousnesses can have any body they want) raise it up to a whole new level. This is damned near a masterpiece and everybody who values my opinion at all should give this a shot. $25

Delliquanti, Blue – O Human Star Volume Two


O Human Star Volume Two

Just in case you don’t like suspense in your reviews, this is the graphic novel I was most looking forward to getting at Cartoon Crossroads in Columbus this year (before I found out the hard way that there wouldn’t be any in-person distributors), and it fully lived up to my expectations. For once I actually remembered to order the book from the artist instead of just saying that that was something I should do in a review. I also got the third volume, and as I’m already sneaking glances at the cover, chances are the review for that one should be up in the next week or so. Or maybe the day after this one, if I just give in completely. Anyway! I’m assuming you’ve already read the first volume, as it would be very odd to jump right in with a review of the second of three volumes. Most of the lingering mysteries from the previous volume are still left lingering when this one is over, which is fine, and the story has moved along nicely. We get to see significantly more context in regards to just how Alastair died and his relationship with Brendan at the time. Blue also dedicates some serious time and space to exploring their professional past, their relationships with other inventors and what gave them the ability to really get their big idea off the ground. We also see a significant progression in Sulla’s character, as she gets to spend more time her potential love interest (who still has no idea that she’s a synthetic being). There’s also an incredibly relevant short story in the back from an anthology that shows the moment when Sulla decided to transition, and even though it’s not technically part of the story proper I do hope that it sticks around in any future editions of the series. What else can I say without giving too much away… Brendan crosses several names off his list of the possible suspects who may have brought Alastair back without him knowing about it. We get to see significantly more of the apparently robust robot culture, and their reaction at seeing the man who they’ve always thought of as the father of robotics. And, while this may not be as important, the glimpse into Al’s “negotiating skills” was absolutely hilarious. It’s a thoroughly engrossing read with a compelling mystery and it deals with several questions involving identity seemingly effortlessly. I’d call it one of the best comics series of the year, and there’s a serious chance I’ll upgrade that to THE best series after the third volume. Either way, if you like comics, you’re only hurting yourself by not giving this a shot. $25

Delliquanti, Blue – O Human Star Volume One


O Human Star Volume One

So I just did a quick bit of research, and outside of a few shorts pieces in anthologies, it’s true: this is Blue’s first long comics series. Why did I feel the need to research this? Because it’s damned near flawless, and it will always be shocking to me when that’s true with anyone’s first try. Also, as I’m perpetually a day late and a dollar short, the third and final volume has been completed and should be coming out this year, so the story is over right as I’m getting into it. Ah well, I can still do my reviewers duty and get anybody who’s as constantly late as me on board. This is the story of Alastair Sterling, and it starts with him dying. Before you start making comparisons to Sunset Boulevard, no, he’s not dead for the whole story and narrating it. Well, he is dead. Ugh, I’m getting ahead of myself. He does die in the first few pages, true. But then he wakes up with his consciousness in the body of an extremely human-looking android and is told that this is because of his former assistant Brendan as he’s being driven to see him. Who’s driving him? Well, that ends up being a mystery, as he quickly learns that Brendan had nothing to do with this resurrection. Alastair was at the forefront of artificial intelligence technology before he died, and in the ensuing 16 years robots have become normalized and have their own rights. The bulk of this book is spent with Alastair trying to get a grip on this new reality, interspersed with flashbacks to show how the two of them met, how they researched their work and how they finally got it off the ground. Alastair also meets another synthetic life form, Sulla, whose personality was taken from his brain waves in one of Brendan’s failed attempts to bring Alastair back. Sulla, however, had requested to be a girl after her first few years, which raises all sorts of questions from Alastair. So how many mysteries are we up to? Mysterious benefactors, the questions about his robotic clone (not even close to the right term probably), how his relationship with Brendan is going to go after so long apart, a few more I’m definitely forgetting. So there’s all kinds of intrigue, but it’s also just so damned human. Sulla is a typical teenager, at least in temperament, and there’s the usual nervousness about trying to fit in with other teens, especially after a lifetime of home schooling has left her without many social graces. Alastair tries his best, but he’s clearly and consistently uncomfortable in this world. And Brendan’s collapse early on as he realized that this really was Alastair at his doorstep was devastating, as was his constantly walking on eggshells around Alastair and Sulla. I’m completely hooked and getting the second volume as soon as I wrap up this review, so expect a few words about that in the coming months. Maybe just in time for the third volume to be released so I can be at least mildly current? I live in hope. But yeah, in case I wasn’t clear: get this book as soon as you can. I guarantee that you’ll be hooked after the first few pages. $25