Look Into the Agency
Where to begin… Sometimes we slip down a rabbit hole and before we realize it we are deeper in than we expected. It can be even crazier when you didn’t even realize it was happening to begin with. Or something…
Let’s take a step back. I am going to lay this out in simple terms first. I am talking about the collected run of a six-issue series, The Agency (Image Comics (Top Cow) 2007). The only way to read this one is through a print version. Yeah, I still read print comics and graphic novels from time to time.
Anyway, the storyline is a dystopian look into the near future. Cybernetics have become the norm, and pretty much what you might expect of a cyberpunk horror story is in place. With one extra consideration, law enforcement has been taken over by private companies. It’s all the drudgery of corporate culture mixed with cyberpunk dystopia. Yeah, it’s a pretty good time.
I want to take a moment here to make a quick aside. I hadn’t made the connection between this and something else I had read recently until I looked at the publishing information. The artist on this one was Kyle Hotz. That may or may not mean anything to you. But I discovered that another of his credits is the comic Criminal Macabre. I had actually thought of talking about that one but opted out for The Agency instead. Small world. I’ll have to spend some time with Criminal Macabre on another outing. But I will leave it here with this, the art style is a great fit for both stories.
So then, what we have within the Agency is a crime drama built into a private police force. Basically, if you understand anything of how role-playing games work, or the thought of adventuring parties, you can get an idea of what they set up as the main group in this story. My mind is actually clicking on this thought as I write this. I hadn’t realized it while reading it, because it has the feeling of what we expect for police procedural shows.
You have the team investigating a crime, in this case they are hunting a specific criminal. The white whale of criminals if you will. The nasty baddy in this one is depraved and approaches all manner of nastiness as he goes on killing rampages. It’s the elements we are familiar with at the basic levels to pull us into the story. It gives us something to ground us into the story before we jump into the more out there concepts.
Yeah, the story came about in the early 2000s. The cyberpunk movement was one we know from the late 80s and early 90s. For the most part we are familiar with what the different aspects of the tech might be able to do. So what can be done to take it all a bit further? And see, this is the twist in the story that dug just that much deeper into my enjoyment of it.
The hacker has a subroutine in her mind, a separate personality if you will. And the personality is the complete opposite of her own. It becomes assaults from different internal directions because the villain of the story is a programming genius. It all becomes a bit of a mind game as we realize the hero of the story isn’t stable, not because she is insane, but because you never quite know who has written new subroutines in her mental matrix.
Throughout the story we are faced with biological horrors as society has reached a level where computers and biohacking are able to affect us in some ugly ways. Essentially, throughout the story it is a feeling that someone took the idea that just because they could, they should.
It is that concept that brings us to the end of the story and the real underlying mess of what is going on. But I won’t get into that. I prefer to keep things vague and misleading so maybe you might check the story out on your own. Granted that gives you the opportunity to say I have no clue what I am talking about. But really, I’m ok with that.
All of that aside, this is a great story and worth checking out. There is all manner of cyberpunk goodness with blood and gore and electronic modifications everywhere. The gritty noir feel of it all makes me long for the days of smoky bars and maybe even some jazz. Though I think techno would be more appropriate for this one.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.