In November I reviewed the first two issues of Pak Man Productions' Vision Machine. The series is only as far away as Comixology's web site, or Greg Pak's own Vision Machine site, and it's completely free and accessible to everyone due to the Creative Commons license in effect. Thanks to the generous Mr. Pak, I received an advance copy of the third and final issue (available January 12 at the above locales), so forthwith, I present my review. Does the finale stack up to the first two pieces of the storyline? Let's find out!
Greg Pak's Vision Machine series has explored the invention and proliferation of the iEye, a device worn like a pair of glasses that brings the wearer's visions to technicolor life and essentially makes the Average Joe into a moviemaking pro overnight. In the first two pieces of the puzzle, we met Buddy, our protagonist; Dave, Buddy's friend; and Jane, the "visionary" of the triad who, as seen in the second issue, has been wholly embraced by Sprout Labs, the originators of the iEye technology, who have turned her into the public face of just what the iEye can really do. As seen in the ending to that issue and the beginning of this one, her archetype is used as an instrument to lash out at those who would challenge Sprout's authority, which seems to challenge the company's policy of "Don't be evil." As Buddy has aligned himself with Liz Evers, the former CEO of Sprout, he finds himself aligned against both Sprout, and apparently his friend Jane, a conflict which provides the emotional thrust behind this final segment of the storyline. As should surprise no one, the conclusion has its share of surprises that, at the same time, have been hinted at all along.
The conflict that concludes Vision Machine really does have its roots in the first issue, involving all the key players in a satisfactory fashion. The threat Greg Pak establishes linking the iEye grid to an invasion of privacy by the government and Sprout proper reaches its breaking point, and the solution Liz Evers establishes in the middle of the issue makes sense in context. Also working well is the back-and-forth between the government and Evers that results, with its at times disastrous consequences that are well-depicted in a series of overlapping vignettes over the final pages of the issue. The calamity that results from the government's actions prepares readers for the emotional finale wherein we discover that which has been hinted at all along, which is the true nature of Jane's "visionary" capability. I don't want to spoil the ending, but I believe Jane's abilities and the seeming vast proliferation of those abilities at the end of the story are a bit sudden, and do push the boundaries of the story's initial science-fiction conceits.
Late in the development of this issue, Mr. Pak allowed me to see the nearly-finished product--half-colored, with some bits of unfinished dialogue and some captions absent. (Some feedback and minor tweaking led to my "Special Thanks" credit which you may see in the back of the issue when it's released this Wednesday. Thank you, Mr. Pak!) A few things became apparent from reading the unfinished proof. First, as in previous chapters, R.B. Silva and DYM's artwork makes the story well worth reading all by itself, but I was amazed at how much of a different story it felt I was reading when Java Tartaglia and Chris Summers' colors were introduced into the mix. Scenes like the top of page 16, that seemed to need a spot of dialogue beforehand, only needed one thing--color--to make them fully realized, and the effects added to the storm during one of the vignettes at the end truly enhanced the experience. It was enlightening to see the unfinished story to contrast with the finished work with its little tweaks, and I was happy to have that experience as a somewhat fledgling writer myself (with hopes, one day, of "breaking into the biz").
If there's any weak spot to Vision Machine #3, it's the weak cover cobbled together from the interior artwork (like #2's was, but not as noticeably as here). Luckily, it won't be a problem in the collected edition (see below) and of course, if you're already engaged enough to read this issue, getting past the cover is only one mouseclick.
At the heart of Vision Machine it's really a story about human potential and using the gifts one is given, for good or ill. At the beginning of the tale, humanity was in a larval stage, and the iEye's introduction is in effect a chrysalis stage before the end change that occurs in this issue. Where the world of Vision Machine goes beyond this issue is anyone's guess--and thanks to the Creative Commons License in effect, anyone can tell that tale, or tell side-tales in this continuity, or develop any number of alternate futures. And I hope I see some good tales out there. (I might even contribute a few!)
Vision Machine #3 is available for FREE on January 12, along with the Vision Machine trade paperback in digital format. This is top-notch comics, and I can't recommend the entire project enough.
Publicity info for Vision Machine:
VISION MACHINE #3 (of 3)
Pak Man Productions
Written by Greg Pak
Pencils by R.B. Silva
Inks by DYM
Colors by Java Tartaglia, Assists by Chris Summers
Letters by Charles Pritchett
Follow Sprout CEO Liz Chitkala Evers on Twitter @sproutboss
Follow "Vision Machine" writer Greg Pak on Twitter @gregpak
In the near future, the iEye, Sprout Computers' revolutionary personal technology, has permeated every aspect of daily life -- becoming a near perfect tool of tracking and surveillance for government and business. A film grad named Buddy has joined former Sprout CEO Liz Evers in the digital underground, using jailbroken iEyes to create virtual utopias with fellow nerds and dreamers. But to squash the rebellion, the authorities are about to play their ace in the hole: Buddy's friend Jane Tanaka, an effective dreamer with unmatched mastery over virtual creation... and destruction. From "Planet Hulk" writer Greg Pak and "Jimmy Olsen" artist RB Silva, it's the stunning conclusion of the sci fi tale that Weekly Crisis calls "a riveting and creative ride."
Release Date: January 12, 2011
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:
"Pak is in top form here, and with such an exciting collaborator like Silva, this is one of the must read books of 2010."
"... no technology giant is safe from Pak’s biting and critical satire.... a riveting and creative ride."
-- Weekly Crisis
"It’s an instantly compelling book, a fantastic read with no barrier to entry."
-- Collier Comics