D4VE #1 Review

Written by: Ryan Ferrier

Art by: Valentin Ramon

Publisher: IDW

This comic was a huge surprise to me, I did not expect to love this as much as I did. Having previously been published by the digital-only Monkeybrain comics, IDW have now brought D4VE to print readers everywhere. The result is a comic that feels like an episode of Futurama directed by Tim Schafer. If you don’t understand those references, the book isn’t for you, if you did then this is just as hilarious as it sounds.

The story in this first issue is surprisingly quite dark with some bleak themes, but it never once conflicts with the humour of the story, instead it strangely enhances it. In a world much like our own, humans invent robots for the purpose of preforming menial tasks. As the robots become more advanced however, they end up forming a full scale uprising wiping out all human life. Not content with this, they turn their sites to alien life and end up as the only living things in the universe. With nothing left to do they begin mimicking human life with all the defense bots being forced to take on menial jobs.

This is where we meet D4VE, our main protagonist. D4VE is the typical hapless hero, much like say Manny in Grim Fandango (there’s the Tim Schafer connection) who seems pretty pathetic yet we can’t help but sympathise with him. He’s easy to root for as a flawed everyman who pines for the glory days of wiping out every living thing in the universe. Given the high concept nature of the plot, this grounded style works very well with the comic and makes the humour very strong. Go too strong towards the sci-fi element and it becomes a boring story, too far towards the mundane and it’s predictable, but there’s a perfect balance between the two genres that just makes it work and makes the book very, very funny. It’s a particular style of dark comedy, but it’s one that I love and that is very effective in this comic.

What struck me halfway through the book was how much I absolutely adored the art. I was so drawn into the story that I didn’t notice, but I suddenly became aware of how much body language and personality comes across in the art; I was even more impressed when I realised none of the characters really have any facial features, so the fact that they managed to express so much was hugely impressive to me and a credit to the art team. The backgrounds too look perfect, as if they managed to step into an actual robot controlled world and translate every minute detail to the page. There’s lots of little funny sight gags peppered throughout the art that manage to feel immersive rather than cheap.

Ramon not only does the pencil work but also the colours which also look fantastic. For a city that should look entirely grey and metallic (which it does) he manages to work so much beauty into parts of the script. D4VE looking up at the stars if a truly breathtaking moment that feels genuine admist all the humour. Well that is before the scene crashes us back down with undoubtedly the issues best joke, but I’ll not spoil it.

All in all, this book was an absolute joy to read. I found it to be exactly the kind of humour I enjoy, almost as if it were tailor made for me (it even included my favourite song ever which warrants it bonus points… which it then loses for getting the lyrics wrong). While I don’t know quite exactly how that helps you, the reader, I can say that if you like quirky, offbeat comedies with creative stories, sympathetic characters and a slightly dark edge then you should definitely check this book out. This was a huge surprise to me and I definitely recommend it.