Deadsignal (pkgd. w/ JD Meg #382) – Various

5 out of 5

A pretty brilliantly trippy collection of shorts, all linked by the talents of PJ Holden.

The featured, titular story, scripted by Al Ewing, first proposes an already interesting sci-fi premise – bounty-hunting, filmed and broadcast for cash, in which the costs to get the best gear and this net the best ratings Catch-22 you into perpetual debt which our lead pays off with further bounty hunting – and then Ewing starts playing with reality layers, first suggesting that there’s an in-story conspiracy, then that the whole thing has been a coma-patient’s dream, then that that is just a manipulation for more ratings…  It would be an obnoxious dream-within-a-dream trope of Ewing didn’t smartly rope the contemplation of What Is Real into his character development and the tale’s overall theme.  It’s heady, but impressively compressed without taking an easy way out or dumbing it down.

Somewhat sticking to the reality vs. fiction gist, next up is a fairly recent 3riller from Alec Worley that explores a society run by a president who maybe sorta controls your thoughts.  The story is all over the place and frankly a big confused for focus, but there’s an undercurrent of creepiness (helped majorly by Holden’s art) that keeps you reading, wanting to know what’s what, all the way through the downbeat ending.

Closing the mini-trade out are two pretty hilarious and creative future shocks, which have Holden operating in a more cartoonish (a la Colin MacNeil) capacity.

Fast-moving, packed with unique ideas.  A good odds and ends floppy.