FROM WEB COMIC TO TOP NOTCH GRAPHIC NOVEL
After the devastating flood of 2016, the Hayashi Corporation helped rebuild Greece and create the city of New Athens for humans and cybernetic lifeforms to live in peace on the ruined planet. SDX Officer Solano is investigating a string of brutal murders of both human and robotic individuals that are somehow tied to the Hayashi Corporation, and when Hayashi himself is killed the case gets even stranger. Solano is given a new partner named Ella Thermidor, who pilots a Mobile Gun -- a cybernetic mini-mech suit that deals with heavy-hitting criminals. Together the two of them will try and find out the mysteries surrounding the Old City, where strange occurrences are becoming more and more frequent, and where Hayashi is keeping a dark secret.
Written and illustrated by Giannis Milonogiannis, Old City Blues is a collection of his wildly popular web comic series of the same name. This volume, published by Archaia, collects all four issues that can be found at www.oldcityblues.com, though I suggest picking up the new hardcover collection because it's wonderful.
The artwork is very stylized and simple, but gives the same black and white futuristic feeling that Akira gave on the printed page. The pacing and panels have lots of movement and action in the sketched lines that kept my eyes gliding across the page. Even the handwritten word balloons were a nice touch, which made it feel more authentic and independent from the big publishers.
Influences on Milonogiannis' are pretty apparent in this volume, as the styles of sci-fi noir classics like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell bleed into his work. It's not a rip-off by any means, but an homage to the more thought-provoking sci-fi of the past few decades. In a time when most sci-fi genres pieces rely on action to tell the fantastic portion of the story, Milonogiannis uses the characters to explore a world where hardcover books and inked paper are a thing of legends, and robotic individuals are just as respected as human beings.
I picked up this book on a whim and absolutely loved it. I would love to see the continued adventures of Solano and Ella in New Athens, and I'm now interested in other work done by Milonogiannis. This might be one of the best stand-alone graphic novels I've read so far this year. Something pretty spectacular is going to have to step in to top it.