Published by Nobrow Press, SP4RX is an epic new graphic novel by Wren McDonald. Taking place in the future where an aggressive class system has physically divided civilisation onto different levels and the the elite are able to rule over the lower levels however they see fit, the story follows a young hacker called SP4RX who finds himself in an increasingly dangerous situation. A series of dramatic events lead to SP4RX getting involved with a rebellious cause, setting him on a collision course with fate and ultimately placing the fate of humanity in his hands.
Not just a gripping story, SP4RX is stylishly illustrated too! A visual highlight is when SP4RX is practising in virtual reality and the page transforms into an inverted monochrome scene. Each page within the story is brilliantly done but these sections are particularly sleek. There is plenty of variation within the comic's aesthetic too and this in fact becomes a key part of how the story is told. The quick transitions between full pages visuals and a cluster of panels together in the same spread hastens the stories paces and heightens it's momentum. This gradually pulls you into the mix and before long you will be fully rooting for each of the slightly off-kilter characters and caring more about the rebel cause than any of your real-life political views.
Whilst it is set in a very physically different world from our own, there are clear comparisons drawn between the modern world and that which SP4RX is attempting to save. Whilst still thoroughly entertaining, the book makes clear comments on our class system whilst also subtlety provoking thought about our relationship with technology and the power and trustworthiness of the media. Nobrow never fail to show how diverse the comic book medium can be and this latest release proves they can most definitely be simultaneously intelligent and thrilling reads.
If you do choose to buy a copy of SP4RX be warned, this isn't just a jolly adventure you are going along for as ups, downs, twists and turns are all Wren McDonald specialities. Juxtaposing these elements of surprise with wry sense of humour and thirst for adventure, Wren has come up with a winning formula for creating enthralling stories. Following on from the success of Cyber Realm, Wren's contribution to Nobrow's 17x23 series, it is no surprise that Nobrow chose to invite him back for a second, longer-form outing. This larger format has given Wren plenty of space to explore and experiment with his style - both in terms of aesthetic and storytelling - and has ultimately resulted in an even more epic page-turner!