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Plexus is a Tour De Force of Fractured Relationships Through a Sci-fi Lens

Plexus is the first science fiction title from rising Ireland-based small press group Limit Break Comics. When I recently interviewed the group’s co-founder and writer of this anthology, Paul Carroll, he spoke of how he has his eyes set on making comics through Limit Break that entertain and inspire, and aren’t tied down to one genre. That sweeping vision is at huge odds with the sheer intimacy of Plexus. The anthology only consists of three stories, and three other creators help Paul in bringing these parables to life.

Plexus packs in an overarching theme of relationships being disrupted. Whether its uncontrollable superpowers, post-apocalyptic propaganda, or artificial intelligence gone haywire, Plexus utilises recognisable aspects of science fiction to box in families and friendships being tested to their limits. Paul executes this handful of stories with quiet gusto, allowing these angst-ridden scenarios to unfold gracefully, whilst each artist illuminates his ideas and narratives further, lending each strip its on distinct look.

Opener Glitch is perhaps the most creatively successful strip. Illustrated, coloured and lettered by Rebecca Reynolds, she adheres to a well-worn nine-panel-per-page motif that enhances the claustrophobic nature of the strip. In a world where superpowers are commonplace, Shane is wracked with guilt when he suspects his teleportation powers have upset a date night of his telekinetic friend Emma. The glitching malfunctioning of Shane feels like a metaphor for puberty, as youth is at the heart of Glitch. The strip is riddled with tension of this young friendship thrown asunder, whilst Rebecca’s jovial colours and playful shapes capture the innocence of Shane and Emma’s bond.

Shelter is enjoyably deceptive, and the strip that relies the most heavily on world-building. Colm Griffin‘s sharp, chunky art locks onto Paul’s grim, murky colours, as a father and daughter trapped in a window-less camp continually hope for salvation, only to uncover a much darker secret kept from them by the powers that be. Paul’s world-building itself becomes heavy-going in places, suggesting this strip would function better as an issue-length story in itself, and its climax builds to a vague resolution that’s less well-rounded than Glitch. Ultimately, Shelter becomes somewhat smothered by its own mechanics, but it’s strengthened by its themes of family separation, which secures it’s position within Plexus.

Al is the most emotionally resonant strip in the comic. It’s premise of artificially-enhanced mothers attempting to fix their equally artificially adjusted son going wrong is book-ended with grief and loss. Steve Mardo‘s art and Paul’s colours inject a subversive visual flavour into the strip. They give Al a retro look, almost like a 1950s feel of domestic bliss that’s torn apart through technological perversion. The subversion resonates further via Mardo’s shifting, three-dimensional use of perspective, to superb effect. His panel structure gains particular zest in the strip’s climax, hooking the reader further into an emotionally bittersweet resolution.

Plexus‘ keen ideas, progressive characteristics and distinct artwork make it a thoroughly decent read. It’s clever, sensitive and diverse. A longer page-length would result in some of its ideas being communicated with a bit more muscle and flair, but Plexus is a welcome addition to Limit Break Comics’ growing catalogue of eclectic titles.

You can purchase a copy of Plexus here! Have you had a chance to read this clever anthology? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

About the author

Fred McNamara