Data is the only currency. Privacy is the only crime. In the country of Seaboard, you are connected, or you are deleted. The server rules over all, and those who would choose to live as Disconnects find themselves hunted by the Axons. These elite soldiers have one task: to protect the integrity of the network. Follow Eric, a rogue Axon, and Talia, a Disconnected radical, as they race to escape the heavily-policed city-state and find freedom among the free-born peoples living on the fringes of society. Explore the ideas of connectivity and what freedom truly is. Who makes the truth and what does it really mean? Who decides your fate in a world where computers know your every action and desire before you do? What would you sacrifice to be free?
The dangers of an interconnected technologically-obsessed society come to light in Monitor, a book packed with stunning visuals that leans heavily into its sci-fi roots to explore a tale of defiance against subjugation.
This is a graphic novel you can really sink your teeth into.
It’s interesting that the promotions for the book mention that fans of Blade Runner and Minority Report will find a lot to love in Monitor, because it’s the honest truth. This graphic novel feels like a natural evolution of those very stories which offer words of warning in the face of such technological prowess. It’s a sci-fi epic that unfolds like a relentless thriller, and it despite a complex narrative, it’s both remarkably cohesive and engaging. The noir influences help to keep the mystery flowing even as we near the book’s conclusion and the character development takes readers on a wild and unpredictable ride.
Eric and Talira are undoubtedly the main characters, representing a dichotomy that is often utilized in the genre which contrasts an interconnected lifestyle with someone who has disconnected entirely. This duality gets right to the heart of Monitor and keeps the central theme of technological dependence at the forefront of the story. As the two take on the Axon soldiers after becoming identified as “Disconnects” for leaving the Server of the country of Seaboard, refusing to transmit any of their data for collection anymore, we are quickly introduced to a group of rebels deemed the “Isolates” and the sides are set. The conflict that ensues to bring down the police-state which has criminalized privacy is filled with polytheistic religious imagery, revolutionist exposition and an exploration of the nature of morality, but most importantly among all of this, we find a story about liberation.
The sociopolitical themes at play in Monitor are uniquely relevant to our world today, and it dives into the prospects of the power we grant technology in our lives in the name of convenience and the corruption that can arise amidst complacency. It places a sense of religious spiritualism up against a devotion to a predictive matrix in the Server to emphasize inherent dangers of humanity like oppression and corruption. Is it a little too on-the-nose sometimes? Sure. The nuances of the story can fall into being a bit too overt as the plan to bring down the Server nodes comes to fruition, and the dialogue has a tendency to get a bit angsty and over dramatic. There are a lot of interesting dynamics happening in Monitor, from it’s utilization of specific terminology to it’s willingness to explore our own interactions with technology, but it also loses focus when the story should be more character-driven. The result is a book that is undeniably engaging, but also simply not quite as entertaining as it had the potential to be.
While there is a noticeable lack of spectacular splash pages for a sci-fi story like this, you don’t miss them because the artwork brings something entirely new and remarkably engaging. I’ve always personally loved visuals that utilize a black and grey with limited colors approach, and Monitor pulls this off wonderfully. The blue that finds its way into pretty much every page sets the book off with uniqueness that pulls you into the world. It’s reminiscent of our social media today and casts a “blue screen glow” on the panels to bring out different elements of the story. Some of the panel design can get a bit too hectic as the dialogue-filled pages jump from one narrative to the next, forcing me to slow down slightly to ensure I was following the story. The lettering takes some really awesome chances to great success with the different techno-text that occurs, but even it falls victim to the panel layouts. I may have had to go back a couple of times to make sure I didn’t miss anything, but there is a lot of stunning artwork so it makes it worthwhile. Overall, the Monitor is a treat to look at.
The message of the dangers of our technological dependence and the importance of individuality is something that will draw a lot of reactions and opinions. This story does a great job of not necessarily promoting or siding with any particular viewpoint, but instead examining the potential consequences of usage that simply gets out of control. At its core, Monitor is a story about the inevitability of human nature and that’s something I can respect. While it’s an idea that has been explored quite a lot in media, Monitor finds a fresh perspective with some intricate world building and shocking twists and turns. Fans of noir sci-fi and modern moral dilemmas will surely want to check this one out. It is certainly a worthy addition to anyone’s collection.
Monitor is a sci-fi epic with uniquely impressive visuals that unfolds like a relentlessly paced thriller, and despite the sometimes overly-complex narrative, it's a thoughtful exploration of the dangers of our own technological dependence.
Monitor: Our Data is Our Strength, Our Data Will Protect Us
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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