Thursday, November 5, 2015

Webcomic Review: O Human Star

I mentioned this comic recently in my A Boy and A Girl review, the human-robot relationships in a near future instantly reminded me of O Human Star, and found myself thinking about it again after I picked up a copy at SPX back in September. So, since it looks like the last time I did a review of it was a few years ago, allow me to convince you dear readers once again why you should give this very human story a shot.

O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti

There are two reasons why OHS immediately feels like science fiction to me, the first and most obvious reason are the robots. Set somewhere in the near future, the 2040s at the latest, both the physical technology and AI have advanced so much that robots are ubiquitous and it's gotten harder and harder to tell them apart from humans. This is the world that Al Sterling wakes up in; 16 years ago he was human but died suddenly and now, even more suddenly, he's "alive" again and with no idea why. His old partner, both romantically and in business, Brendan is the CEO of the robotics company Al started and he has no idea what is going on either, especially because he tried to revive Al like this years ago and instead created Sulla, his robotic child who has just become a 16 year old girl*. With that messy complication they've gone from two different families of two to one of three with more secrets than any one person realizes.

When I lay out the story like this it feels as if very little has happened so far but at this point in the story it's clear that Blue Delliquanti cares more about establishing why the characters have become who they are rather than how Al has returned (I'm also sure that we'll meet the culprit in person sooner or later, possibly in one of the flashbacks, since every good mystery shows you the perpetrator before the reveal). The main cast is strong enough to carry the story which also keeps everything flowing smoothly, everyone is interestingly nuanced and if Sulla seems a little more carefree and less mature than Al or Brendan, well, she is only 16 to their late 30s/early 40s. All three of them have similar and yet different insecurities so, as obvious as it sounds, they really do feel like three, distinct characters and it's easy to relate to at least part of each of them. Having first read this on the website with the author notes, it's also interesting how Delliquanti flat out says that Al and Brendan aren't necessarily the best role models for Sulla given how much they've already had to conceal in their lives. Much like the drama I put in my footnote, it's setting up some conflicts, primarily in Sulla's life, that normally I would be bothered by ("why don't people just talk to each other!") but I understand the characters well enough to go along with it. They are imperfect, ordinary people who aren't trying to be perfect and it's that humanity that makes this series so engrossing. 

O Human Star can be read both online or in print, both show off the story's single color toned pages well (side note, is there a term for this kind of shading?) and I highly recommend this LGBTQ+ friendly series. It's a really strong work and really stands out amongst the other sci-fi webcomics I'm reading right now for remembering that the future isn't always full of aliens, sometimes humanity alone can create a whole new world. 

*if I am remembering everything correctly, Sulla knows that she was "created" from Al but doesn't know that Al and Brendan were an item which is honestly one of the few legitimate excuses for not saying that you were in a relationship 

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