by: Jonathan Bryant
The Internet has become our virtual depository.
Dirty laundry is aired in the backyard that is social networking. Dreams and aspirations are on display for all the world to see. Sometimes, we even post our deepest, darkest secrets far from prying eyes… or so we think.
Cell phone contacts, music libraries, credit card information—everything is stored in the cloud.
What happens when, inevitably, that cloud bursts?
Such is the premise of “The Private Eye,” a sci-fi mystery-thriller written by acclaimed writer Brian K. Vaughan (“Y: The Last Man,” “Saga,” “Runaways”) and illustrated by award-winning artist Marcos Martin (“Batgirl: Year One,” “Amazing Spider-Man”).
Almost as interesting as the project’s creators is its method of delivery. Vaughan and Martin are offering their creation free of Digital Rights Management (DRM) and at whatever price buyers are willing to pay (or not pay).
While certainly not the first to take this approach—Radiohead popularized the method with their critically-acclaimed 2007 album, “In Rainbows”—it is fairly novel within the realm of comic books.
Vaughan has said that, instead of the tried-and-true Kickstarter approach for indie development—he would rather give readers a finished product before “shaking the tin cup.”
Granted these two comic book creators could’ve created a story about French toast and many (this writer included) would purchase it with unwavering faith.
Fortunately, we are offered something a bit more substantial here—the year is 2076. Surprisingly, it is a future ruled by neither the Internet nor technology in general.
There is nary a cell phone in sight, although some citizens have resorted to using old-school pay phones.
It also isn’t a dystopian world filled with muddy browns and grays nor is it one overly filled with ridiculously shiny, reflective surfaces.
It is a believable future, one in which humanity treasures privacy above all else. As such, the general populace has all taken a secret identity, donning figurative and literal masks to protect what they hold most dear.
Everyone who is anyone is no one.
In the downfall of the Internet, newspapers not only remain, but thrive. Subways zoom around the city with advertisements such as “The Los Angeles Times: Your Tax Dollars at Work” emblazoned boldly on their sides.
The press is the new police in town, who protect citizens and their privacy from the likes of the paparazzi, individuals who would uncover those secrets and sell the information to interested buyers.
It is here that we are introduced to our main character, an information broker of sorts known only as “Patrick Immelman,” which is almost assuredly a fake name (P.I.).
Due to the mystery-filled nature, it’s difficult to talk about what exactly transpires in the first issue without giving away much of what makes it special.
With press badge-wielding cops, clients and other characters that are sure to serve both minor and major roles through the 10-issue series, Vaughan and Martin paint a promising picture for things to come.
Especially gripping is Vaughan’s signature cliffhanger, which is sure to entice readers until next month’s issue.
One interaction that didn’t function nearly as well was P.I.’s meeting with his father in the latter half of the issue.
It’s at this point that Vaughan chooses to drop a metric ton of information on readers about the state of the world and how it came to be. It’s all handled in a noticeably awkward way, which is made especially jarring coming from a writer of Vaughan’s caliber.
Still, the premise and choose-your-own-price approach should be more than enough to warrant checking out this oversized first issue of Vaughan’s newest creation.
Visit panelsyndicate.com to purchase (or steal) issue one of “The Private Eye” today.