The Impossible Utopia: “Symmetry” #1 (Review)

Symmetry coverSymmetry #1
Image Comics

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

Humanity has finally achieved community, peace, harmony, and equality. But, like all utopias, there’s an underlying problem: people have been stripped of their identity. To create a world without violence, there can be no ambition, diversity, or creativity. Imperfection cannot exist.

Symmetry genderSymmetry takes place in a futuristic society where artificial intelligence is in control. Each person is implanted with a personal RAINA (or Responsive Artificial Intelligence Network Archetypes), forming almost a symbiotic bond with its host and acting as his or her personal computer to guide day-to-day life. Other than choosing one’s name and gender at age thirteen, which are merely for reproductive purposes, people do not have any sense of individualism. This comes across in the characters’ all-white attire and their dull, emotionless dialogue. The first issue follows Michael as he recaps his life before the solar flare that wipes out the robots, before the death of his older brother, Matthew, and before meeting Maricela.

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Interestingly, writer Matt Hawkins immediately starts the story by describing the society’s imperfections. In most depictions of seemingly perfect societies, readers or viewers have to dig in to unravel the mystery and figure out what’s off. Instead, Hawkins tosses readers right into a dystopia. We’re dropped in the middle of a chase scene between Matthew and the robots, whose look resembles a mix between Daft Punk and the Silence from Doctor Who. He does a good job at switching between Michael’s narration, characters’ dialogue, and the robots’ commands without the story becoming too convoluted.

Symmetry preview2Raffaele Ienco’s artwork is a perfect complement to this sci-fi comic. He uses intricate and realistic renderings to make the characters and locations almost pop off the page, transporting readers right into the story’s futuristic culture. His detailed use of color, depth, and texture in both the foreground and background, without making the pages distracting, is impressive.

Ienco’s cover demonstrates the fight for symmetry and the chaos that occurs when diversity is forbidden. In the image, Michael and Maricela stare at each other while robots stand between them with their arms outstretched—fighting to keep two people of different backgrounds apart. A perfect society, one without diversity, is a fallacy.

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The best part of this first issue is that it already confronts tough issues. In our society, diversity is often ignored in film, television, and books. Symmetry purposely rids humanity of racial, sexual, and gender identities for the betterment of society. The end of this issue confronts this. What happens when humankind realizes not everyone is the same and they’ve all been living a lie?

Matt Hawkins and Raffaele Ienco have set up a great first issue that truly entices science fiction fans. The story is interesting and compelling at the onset, and I’m interested to see where Symmetry goes.

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