Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Finder #27

Finder #27, July 2002, Light Speed Press
by Carla Speed McNeil

When I read the series synopsis of Finder on this issue's inside front cover, I was genuinely excited for the read.

Magri White has a whole world in his head. Magri has more virtual-reality visitors to his world in a day than a theme park gets in a year. Magri has a huge corporation that has grown up around him, and many thousands of employees dependent on his health and welfare. Magri also has a monster, which is hell-bent upon destroying his world and all the people in it. The monster is really Magri himself. Magri isn't telling anybody that.

What a compelling introduction. Unfortunately, the story's intrigue ends there. Granted, this issue is a well-constructed deconstruction of character, providing a tragic origin for Magri's surreal circumstances, but I'd hoped for a tale that drives the series' more linear concept. The first few pages offer a glimpse into this aspect of the epic, as the CEO of Magri's "Elsewhere Corporation" faces a potential investigation from the Royal Commission for Disease Control. Then, we’re in Magri's head, experiencing his memories and musings for the rest of the issue. Why even bother with this brief introduction in reality? In fact, its artwork is bit sloppy, as if the best efforts were reserved for the more climatic moments of the issue. This subplot is nearly as forgotten as it isabandoned by the end of the story.

The insight into Magri's internal struggles is interesting, but in my opinion, poorly paced and unnecessary clustered with too many lofty, fantastic concepts. The driving force behind Magri's trauma is apparently his unborn brother, whose condemnations from the womb are weird and overboard. Fortunately, the artist's skills with the pen really shine here, capturing the pensive frustration we’re supposed to feel with Magri. Its impact might have been more effective without some of the cluttering captions. Overall, the height of this tale may have been a visual treat, but its narrative was lacking something.

Ah, I've figured it out. (This is a real-time realization, folks!) That impressive series synopsis implies that Magri is a strong character, capable of deception that, while challenging, cannot be all consuming. I assumed that his self-made monster was a catalyst for conflict in an "elsewhere" otherwise perfect. Further, if thousands visit Magri's mind everyday, the risk of danger makes such an uncanny journey all the more alluring. Tell me you haven't been to Disneyland without remembering its reputation for poorly maintained attractions. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Google news articles about the Toon Town ride. If you do know what I'm talking about, it certainly didn't stop you from taking that vacation, eh? I figured Magri for a multi-faceted, proactive protagonist, not without his demons, but with a protective and engaging assertiveness. Instead, we're introduced to a weak, helpless man-child. Just as interesting, perhaps, but ultimately predictable.

I've read a few books like Finder. Pop Gun War, Don't Eat the Electric Sheep, and Street Angel come to mind. All black and white, all surreal, all allegorical in some way, really only completely understood by their authors. Books like these have created an urban subgenre in fantasy comics, an emo-meets-sci-fi niche that isn't too dark for the average reader to handle. If you're looking for a comic that'll take you on a mind trip, I recommend any of them. For me, the only mind trip I experienced in Finder was the downward spiral of unachieved expectations. As readers, we have our own inner demons, too.

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