Deus Ex Machina: “Symmetry” #4 (Review)
Story by: Matt Hawkins
Art by: Raffaele Ienco
Lettering by: Troy Peteri
Symmetry has completed its first arc. Like in previous issues, we get a look into the future, while also following the characters in the present. Nothing incredibly exciting or engaging happens in this final issue. The story is a bit bland and feels more like a filler to get readers to the next arc. The dialogue and plot have remained repetitive and redundant, which will hopefully change in the second arc.
The story starts four years after the solar flare, with Michael and Maricela speaking to the System Optimizer for Longevity (SOL). We learn SOL has been around for seventy-seven generations, and there have been four major changes, or updates, to the system. SOL tells Michael and Maricela that another update is required and they are the catalyst. What that update is we’ll find out in another arc. As we know, SOL’s purpose is to help humans live longer, happier lives by ridding humanity of diversity. However, how does its programming work? Who created the program? How did SOL come into being? In the next arc, we’ll find out how it all happened, which should be pretty exciting. Did SOL indoctrinate a fear of change in humans from birth to keep order? As Michael states, “I used to think robots were our enemies, controlling us for nefarious reasons. Turns out we’re our own worst enemies.” With robots becoming more and more self-aware each day, this comic is coming out at exactly the right time. Great minds, like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, have warned us for years about artificial intelligence, with Hawking even claiming it could “spell the end of the human race.” Is this what happened in Symmetry? Did artificial intelligence become self-aware, through our own faults, and destroy the human race for its own benefit?
Fittingly, we learn SOL’s guidance helped Michael and Maricela escape in the present day to Maricela’s people, who did not accept them. Four years in the future, SOL tells them that the elders of the four councils (four major races) will not accept their union or Maricela’s pregnancy. SOL says it can conceal their child to protect her, and we learn Michael has been leaving recordings for his daughter, Julia. Will SOL’s update be to accept diversity?
The variety on each page (of Michael’s narration, characters’ dialogue, and the robots’ commands) is aesthetically pleasing without being too busy. This is in large part thanks to Raffaele Ienco’s design. His detailed and elaborate artwork is a consistent thread that weaves itself throughout every issue.
Ienco’s cover portrays Michael and Maricela atop a large stone as the Pacifiers aggressively reach for them, symbolizing how much they have had to fight since the solar flare. Also, as noted in the issue, this may hint at the robots purposefully guiding the duo’s actions.
One of the best aspects of Symmetry is the Sociology Class in the final pages. Hawkins offers some insight into his thinking for the issue and provides some resources for readers to learn more. He even reveals some detailed plot elements that changed or were cut during editing.
Symmetry is a complex and smart comic that has tons of potential. Hawkins confronts real issues our society faces in a creative way. He exposes real dangers and supports his thinking with social theory. Overall, the first arc offered an interesting story to hook readers, but I’m hoping it picks up as we learn more about Julia and SOL.