Relay - Denied Reality: the review

Relay - Denied Reality: the review
Faith, creative expression, communication and language, individual and collective progress, freedom and free will: every aspect is created, manipulated and questioned in the sci-fi world of Relay - Reality Denied, a new comic by Zac Thompson and Donny Cates published in Italy by saldaPress. The perception of reality is re-discussed and overturned, through a four-hundred-year-long journey that retrieves the exquisitely sci-fi atmospheres of the past, displacing us and questioning what we know of human existence.

It is difficult not to be amazed by facing the work of Thompson and Cates, who with the first volume of Relay - Reality Negated lay the foundations for a new futuristic universe in which nothing is what it seems and doubting reality is legitimate (or almost). Climb aboard this sci-fi trip with us through our review of Relay - Denied Reality.

God is dead, or maybe not

On the earth's soil, a gigantic black monolith towers over everything until it touches the sky with its terrible grandeur. His name is Relay, he was brought there in the past by a man called Hank Donaldson and he rules the lives of men with the knowledge and laws that come from it. However, it is not limited to this. Through the Relay other planets are standardized to human culture, to create a unified "network" made up of the same opinions, knowledge and ideas. In this regard, the Relay can count on an armed force of agents whose job is to keep the population under control by ensuring that everyone respects and complies with the edicts. The agents in question, however, also have the task of traveling the universe to bring the Relay to the planets willing to accept it. The rejection by the latter inevitably follows the destruction of the entire planet.

Jad Carter is one of these agents and one of the absolute truths he pursues in his space travel is the search for the man who started all this: "Look for Hank Donaldson, look for the first planet", is one of the edicts formulated by Relay and Jad is determined at all costs to find the "creator", the man who became a divinity whose answers he so longs for. To find Donaldson, Jad embarks on a journey that will lead him to the borders of his beliefs and faith, to unknown worlds, pursued by Relay agents who hunt him down accusing him of heresy.

The man will soon find out. that nothing he knows about the world, the Relay and Hank Donaldson, matches what he has always been told: will Jad be able to find "God"? And will he be willing to question his own reality in this dangerous intergalactic journey?

Science fiction at its peak

Approaching Relay, the new comic by Zac Thompson and Donny Cates published by saldaPress , it is not easy . Already in the first pages a sentence appears almost to warn us that what we will read will not be the same as what we will receive at the end of the reading:

Every message transmitted is distorted over time. It is repeated, manipulated and transformed into something suitable for a specific purpose.

The texts and dialogues of Relay - Reality Denied are in fact often quite articulated through a refined language in the expression of concepts with an important weight. Therefore, the reader is required to concentrate fully in reading this comic, in order to fully understand and appreciate the story told and the implications of its themes in our beliefs concerning human existence. It could therefore be quite easy to get lost, sometimes, among the various balloons present: however, understanding Relay is not impossible and it is certainly worth diving into the maze of its ideas.

At first the direction may seem unclear towards which he directs the work of Thompson and Cates, but one cannot remain impassive in making this journey together with the protagonist Jad Carter. Relay - Reality Denied is in fact as innovative as it is adherent to the sci-fi classics of the first decades, with futuristic drifts at the limits of human conception that end up touching hallucinogenic margins. It is evident that this comic is not indifferent to the influence of the works of Philip K. Dick (of which it contains some quotes, by the way) or 2001: A Space Odyssey, and its atmospheres perfectly match those of the most innovative sci-fi origins. It is precisely from the latter, then, that Relay probably borrowed the idea of ​​the monolith: a large black block capable of providing men with knowledge, although from this also derives the ability to commit violence on others, even if only in 'to impose one's power on them.

The authors of this comic therefore deserve the credit for having created a work that embraces the essential elements of the sci-fi genre with a modern twist: touching on some of the fundamental themes existentials that have always tormented mankind, however, Zac Thompson and Donny Cates also talk to us about problems close to our contemporaneity, building a reflection on the danger represented by the uniformity that a possible single thought could lead. > What Makes Us Human Beyond the sometimes sophisticated language that Relay - Realtà Negata uses, the comic presents itself as a brilliant science fiction work. In fact, he is able to intelligently question not only the ideas and beliefs of individuals, but also the essential elements that govern our lives on this world. Faith in God, the certainty that order must dominate chaos, the abolition of differences. The Relay, the gigantic black monolith that looms over the lives of men, imposes these dogmas and allows them to live their lives peacefully in the most complete order.

But it is really right to let life in the universe be dictated by uniqueness? Does God really exist or is it just a mental construct imposed to keep the population in check? Is absolute order really good for individuals, forced to live in the shadow of regulations and edicts that limit their freedoms? Doesn't individual artistic expression derive to a certain extent from disorder and chaos? And how much is lost in terms of cultural, technical and ideological knowledge along the way towards the total homologation of populations?

Relay - Reality Denied perhaps it is then, in essence, a look at what makes us truly human : a science fiction comic that uses alien planets, strange monoliths and extraterrestrial creatures to dig deep into our preconceptions and demolish them page after page, to the final revelations that turn out to be a further reversal of everything we know. An intergalactic journey to return once again to the heart of the problem: what is the right measure to define ourselves as truly human?

The choices that the protagonists of Relay make are sometimes questionable and it can often happen that we are unable to fully give wrong or completely right to this or that character: the work of Thompson and Cates is winning also for this, for its ability to generate reflections that are never banal or predictable, leading the reader to question himself on complex fundamental concepts. One of all, that inherent in faith and religiosity, which is strongly inserted through the character of Hank Donaldson, here a messianic figure and personification of a divinity. All this, inserted in the frame of a space journey that keeps you in suspense as you search for the truth about what Relay really is, what its origin is and what secrets it hides. But also on the real existence of Hank Donaldson which leads the protagonists of this story to ask themselves: Does God exist?

The art of Relay - Denied Reality

Relay - Denied Reality can be divided into two big chapters. The first develops from the first works of creation by Donaldson and the Relay to show us how the latter has taken over earthly life, leading us in the footsteps of Jad and the search for him with a spiritual flavor. This first part is illustrated by Andy Clarke, who uses a style that favors realistic figures and highly detailed illustrations. His is a meticulous work made up of straight, clean lines, which details the landscapes of the planets on which he leads us as well as the human figures and their expressions, always rich in a wide spectrum of emotions.

The second great chapter of Relay is instead drawn by Dalibor Talajic, who is characterized by softer illustrations, with a slightly thicker stroke than that of his colleague, but no less appreciable. His style is in fact a less detailed and more “suffused” style, but sometimes even more dynamic and full of life. A detachment that is noticeable, but which does not weigh in any way in reading, instead enriching the comic through two different ways of seeing the science fiction universe of Relay in ways that harmonize well with the plot.

Also accomplices the colors created by Jose Villarrubia and Dan Brown: they do not approach particular palettes that create homogeneity in the comic, but use rather realistic colors, except in the illustrations dedicated to the "extraterrestrial" aspects of this story. It is in these cases, in fact, that the two artists use spectra of heterogeneous and alien colors, which underline how certain figures belong to worlds other than the Earth and its inhabitants. Shades that welcome various shades of different colors and that seem to represent well that The color came from space never fully describable only in words, with a lysergic effect that goes hand in hand with the atmospheres created by the narrative.

Relay - Reality Denied is ultimately a brilliant work from many points of view. It will certainly make lovers of the science fiction genre happy, although it is able to bring even those who do not chew the sci-fi language closer, thanks to the expression of themes as complex as they are close to the essence of men, through a stunning and engaging space journey.

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