Published by Image Comics
Written by Ales Kot
Illustrated by Will Tempest
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
Designed by Tom Muller
I will start this review by saying I think everyone should read Material. Whether you’re an avid comic book fan, whether you enjoy design/art, whether you’re in to politics; I would urge you to read Material.
Material is given to us by writer Ales Kot, also of Zero, as we follow four characters’ lives. Each character’s story is very different and you’re instantly sucked in to all of them equally, devoted to each of their failings and, in rare cases, their successes. There’s the older Professor Shore who’s trying to finish his book amidst his sobering lectures, the failed actress Nylon hoping to kick start her career, Franklin trying to keep himself and his family safe during modern life in these worrying times, and husband Adib who is battling his demons after life in Guantanamo Bay. Material is unlike most comics that will play through each story as well as they possibly can. It’s not only the story or the art that makes this comic so wonderful to read, it’s the little things. Such as the way Kot wants to involve his readers and how he manages to do so flawlessly. With comics it’s so easy to force your audience to take something from the story if you’re willing to push it. With some it can come across incredibly forced, yet in Material you find yourself picking up bits along the way as we’re asked to play a certain song or check out a certain website. The way Kot has managed to make this series interactive is to put small pieces with the storylines to bring it all to life. Each comic ends with an essay from a writer whom Kot favours.
In issue four the stories are reaching their conclusions. Professor Shore is taking the A.I’s hypnotic advice on board and we’re seeing where it takes him, Adib is facing up to his consequences, Nylon is taking charge of the film surrounding her life and Franklin is dealing with his blackmailer. Throughout we’re referenced to Orwellian quotes, to play Beatles songs and to read books such as Guantanamo Diaries as the stories play out. The situations involved are pinpointing our humanity, our empathy and our sense of justice. The way in which Material forces us to become emotionally invested with it is by pointing out that these stories happen, this isn’t just made up somewhere. This is real. These people are real and what they are doing is real. It also makes us look in to ourselves and ask why, in this day and age, is our society still so backward? Where is the progress?
Material had to happen now, it just simply has to be around. People should pick this up, read it from page to page and please take the little references dotted around the place and use them. Listen to the song, pick up the book, google the website, watch the film and take it all on board. Material is not just a comic book series to be read – it is to be experienced.