Cutting Edge, from Titan Comics, written by Francesco Dimitri and art by Mario Alberti, is a graphic novel that delves into the world of social commentary and the cruelty of the real world, under a fantasy-sci-fi- realism lense. Yup, you read that right- somehow, they put all these things together. And I never thought it would work! But here I am, being proven wrong!
FROM TITAN COMICS
WRITTEN BY: FRANCESCO DIMITRI
ARTIST: MARIO ALBERTI
From the beginning, Cutting Edge reminds me of another current book: A Nice House On The Lake, from DC Comics by James Tynion IV and Álvaro Martínez Bueno. Cutting Edge is an ensemble story; Writer Francesco Dimitri introduces us to multiple characters who are all seemingly equally important very quickly. Cutting Edge keeps readers like me, who can be turned off by large ensemble cast stories, invested. stories like this are usually a turn-off for me at first, as I never feel ensemble stories written in the midst of a crisis or major event can tell one cohesive story well without getting lost, but Cutting Edge is never lost.
The “Cutting Edge” Characters
Each character has a distinct personality of their own, yet, they all have one thing in common. They are rich and famous in one way or another. Additionally, they are all being tested by a financial company called Leviathan to see who can represent the best of humanity; to see who best represents the cutting edge of humanity. The rich and famous we put on such high pedestals should be the ones to speak for all of us. Right?
“Because I’m filthy rich, and I’d love to do something other than show my as* on the internet”
The women in this story are flawed, powerful, and human. We see this balance best found in a character by the name of Stella. There is a beautiful balance found between Stella’s entitlement, her high intellect, and her high level of empathy throughout the story. I would compare her characterization to someone like, say, Emma Frost, from the X-Men? And I gotta say.. I’m a sucker for characters like her.
The layers that Dimitri crafts for each character, not just Stella, make all the difference. These characters are their own and I’m positive every reader will latch onto a different character as they read Cutting Edge!
The “Cutting Edge” Story
“You know how to handle people. It must be a gift”
“Yeah, a gift”
I love all the social commentary within the adventure of this story. Seeing even the rich and powerful deal with “minuscule” issues, like helping someone find his lost love, is very satisfying. It’s entirely gratifying seeing what happens when the rich and powerful have to remember what empathy feels like. Furthermore, Dimitri’s interweaving of how social commentary on real issues combines with elements of Greek Mythology and science fiction is magnificent. It makes this story feel far richer than possible. Often, creators will only choose to add in mythology elements OR sci-fi elements, but Cutting Edge has it ALL. And it WORKS!
The stakes are REAL in Cutting Edge. From the beginning, certain characters suffer drastic consequences for their (or their “teammates’”) actions. In Cutting Edge, stakes are real, everything matters and death serves a huge purpose in propelling the story forward. Characters don’t just die and then others move on; there’s a reason for it all.
The “Cutting Edge” Art and Design
There are three key elements to the art of this book that make all the difference to me. First, this book shines with the muted color palette artist Mario Alberti uses. In addition to this general palette throughout the book, Alberti has some key moments where he makes the palette much brighter- and it makes all the difference for the story! These moments add layers to the environment and the fantasy/sci-fi elements in the story; colors matter!
Second, the action scenes throughout Cutting Edge are absolutely phenomenal; the panel transitions between high-speed chases and high-action fight scenes are reminiscent of Elena Casagrande’s amazing work on the current Black Widow run; Alberti ensures that none of the transitions miss the mark and flow perfectly like an action movie sequence itself.
Third, facial expressions are a huge emphasis in the art of this story, which is perfect because with a huge ensemble, how do you tell what everyone is really feeling other than with very blatant dialogue? With some key panels with only a single character’s facial expression and no words, Alberti forces us as readers to really try to figure out what a character is thinking/feeling in a moment, making sure we do not just get lost in the shapes and outlines of characters’ bodies.
Every visual detail in Cutting Edge serves a distinct purpose, much like every mechanic and element in the story. Dimitri and Alberti did a fantastic job crafting the written and visual narratives together in a way that feels real, even with all the fantastical elements in this graphic novel.
Cutting Edge is over 200 pages long and I read it in one sitting because it’s THAT phenomenal. You don’t want to miss a single second of the action, the commentary, heck even the feelings. It’s a magnificent read that I could easily see turned into a movie. I’ve only read a few things from Titan Comics, but I can say with great distinction that Cutting Edge can stand as the blueprint for how magnificent a publisher they are. If you’re looking for a story that has it all, Greek Mythology, Social Commentary, Spy-Level action scenes, and Sci-Fi, and you’re looking for it all done well, look no further than Cutting Edge. It’ll give you the edge you’re missing.