It’s always nice when a title can also double as a summary. Tales of an Imperfect Future is pretty much what you might expect – a collection of short, sci-fi comics (fourteen in all) that are less Star Trek and more Twilight Zone. Written and drawn by Alfonso Font, the stories range from the humorous, as in Cyberratic, to the downright depressing, as in Earth Control At Your Service, Sir. And as you might imagine from my Twilight Zone comparison, several of the stories end on a twist of one variety or another. Obviously, I won’t reveal which ones, but I will say that a few of them really did manage to catch me off-guard.
The book starts out with an alien who explains that he is showing us fragments of our future in an effort to get us to change our ways. In all honesty, this felt tacked on. While most of the stories do have that “these are bad futures that you should avoid” vibe to them, several others are more along the lines of “this future is mostly fine with a few bad aspects to it.” But this is a minor sticking point. The fact of the matter is that this collection is great.
As you might expect, technology running amok, man’s inhumanity to man, and environmental destruction are all themes that pop up over and over again. But there is a nice variety in the ways these stories are presented. Some of them, such as Tanatos-1 Comes Home, take place in the far-future, while others, such as Stocks could easily be set in modern times. There are tales of astronauts exploring the far reaches of the cosmos, and of people barely surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Like I said before, some of the stories are even humorous, however this is where the book fell flat for me. Maybe Font’s sense of humor simply doesn’t match my own – Cyberratic, for example, is almost pure slapstick – but I think it’s because only two, maybe three, of the stories are meant to be funny, producing a kind of tonal whiplash. At any rate, the dramatic stories, which make up the bulk of this collection, are where Font really excels.
It should be noted that this collection is entirely in black-and-white. While this might be a no-go for some people, it does help showcase the art, which is excellent. Font is particularly skilled at drawing faces. Unlike some other artists, who are forced to rely on a colorist to help the readers distinguish various characters, Font draws people with distinctive, yet realistic, faces. Never once was I confused as to who was who. Furthermore, the detail he puts into his panels, contrasted every now and then with stark silhouettes, and his use of light and shadow makes for a fantastic visual style. And one of the stories does humorously allude to the lack of color in the comic (possibly the only joke I actually laughed at), so I’ll give credit to it for being self-aware in that respect.
I’ll also throw in a warning that this comic does contain some vulgar language, nudity, and violence, though, all in all, it wasn’t much. If you like your sci-fi on the slightly darker, “humanity is screwed” side, I definitely recommend giving this collection a look.
Tales of an Imperfect Future is available Wednesday November 19, 2014 from Dark Horse Comics.