Hungry Like the Wolf: “Symmetry” #3 (Review)

Feb 24, 2016

Cover3Symmetry #3 
Image Comics

Story by: Matt Hawkins
Art by:  Raffaele Ienco
Lettering by: Troy Peteri

By now we know the plot: Symmetry is set in a utopian futuristic society where artificial intelligence is in control. To create peace and equality and avoid conflict, society has been stripped of all diversity. A solar flare has wiped out society’s Responsive Artificial Intelligence Network Archetypes (RAINA), and the story follows Michael as he discovers that life is not as perfect as it seems. In this issue, we’re bashed over the head with this synopsis yet again, making a lot of the dialogue and commentary feel redundant.wolf

This issue starts with another time jump—this time, four years in the future, as Michael and Maricela venture to track down and destroy the source of the System Optimizer for Longevity (SOL). It’ll be interesting to see how Matt Hawkins keeps all the time jumps straight in the issues to come. We’ve gone both forward and backward in only three issues. At the end of the four-year jump, there’s a two-page spread depicting the words “Our symmetry is broken” that appeared in issue #2. Repeating the same panels seems like an odd choice. It makes me wonder whether it is a mistake.

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We’re told yet again that the AI medicated people to suppress their emotions and balance their moods. We get more of a glimpse of the resulting chaos and instability just two days after the solar flare, as Thomas tries to attack Michael at Wolf Creek, who then gets attacked by wild wolves. SOLFrom a sociological standpoint, this scene is interesting, particularly Michael’s line: “I’m not proud of what I did next, but instinct took over.” Here, Hawkins is toying with the nature versus nurture debate. Do people still have agency even when society controls their every move? The turmoil of society as it regresses back to its natural state is an interesting parallel to the wild wolves. Again, in the middle of this scene, there’s a random page—this time without any dialogue or character artwork. The abstract design of the page (with concentric circles, line segments, and gradient colors from dark blue to green) looks consistent with the series, yet the page break is another odd choice for the issue. Perhaps it was intentional, but it just seems out of place.

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Hawkins continues to bring just the right amount of variety to each page (with Michael’s narration, characters’ dialogue, and the robots’ commands), and Raffaele Ienco balances the elements well without overwhelming the pages. His detailed and elaborate artwork is a consistent thread in every issue. Ienco’s cover portrays three elders in front of the SOL, perhaps symbolizing how the elders are behind society’s persecution, as Michael implies in the comic.

In a creative way, Hawkins continues to confront real issues our society faces. There’s only one issue left to complete the first arc, and I’m eager to see what Hawkins has in store for us. This issue had some nonsensical writing and overall design choices that took away from the story. However, Hawkins’s exposé of our society’s flaws is interesting and engaging.

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