The first issue of Hard Wyred, a brand new, explosive cyber punk comic series from Erik Bitmanis (Writer) and Ross Zucco (Artist), was released in November. Morgan Dunbar acts as graphic designer on the project, which was originally funded through Kickstarter. Below is the official summary of what to expect:
Set in the not-so-distant future, the internet has grown to the point where people now hook themselves up to it, and live out their lives without ever having to go back to the real world. In this online world, we’ve created a world that depicts the future we have always imagined. Massively tall buildings that scratch at clouds, flying cars, amazingly quick transport. Sounds pretty great, huh? Well, one person doesn’t think so. And that would be our hero. Sam Wyerznowski.
Sam was originally part of the creation of this online world. However, none of that matters to him now. Sam only wants to redeem himself in the eyes of his long-term crush. Katie. Something that looks nigh impossible thanks to Sam’s previous interaction with her. Not only that, but Sam has recently been on a leave of absence, or what some people are referring to as a “forced retirement.” This retirement was brought on by events completely in Sam’s control. And I mean completely.
Yet, when one of the research facilities of Sam’s previous employer, Ms. Teller, is attacked, she has no choice but to turn to the one person who can help her. That person was unfortunately unavailable, so now she is stuck with Sam. Can Sam shake off the rust in time to survive this whole ordeal? Will he get a shot to prove Katie his worth? Or is he about to discover the problem he’s stumbling into is much larger than he could have ever imagined? (Spoilers: it is!)
There’s one more chance to re-connect.
The opening panels of Hard Wyred are devoted to a prologue, which over a few pages gives us a quick idea as to why corporate big-wig Ms. Teller must turn to Sam in the first place. A research facility has been mysteriously attacked. In order to find out who the assailants are and what they want, Ms. Teller know she is going to have to bait the enemy out. Sam, riddled with both debt and embarrassment from his previous outing in Bangkok, has no choice but to sign up as cannon fodder.
Much of issue 1 is used to stir the pot for the story to come. We quickly build up a relationship with down-on-his-luck Sam, who through a series of flashbacks emerges as not only the creator of the intricate, online world, but also a timid tech-support worker who could use a break with the ladies. We’re also introduced to Miranda, an artificial intelligence “Handler” assigned to Sam for his mission. Miranda doubles up as a sort of narrator, a in-our-ear tour guide that explains the nuances of the matrix-like world of Hard Wyred. This effect is not uncommon to video games or cyber punk films, but certainly Bitmanis wields it with more finesse than is typically seen. As a result, the worldbuilding feels far from heavy-handed, at times so crucial to the plot one would be cynical to call it an infodump. Initially, the artwork is not as palatable, but by the latter half of Issue 1, the sharp, black-white images Ross Zucco etches out become vividly clear. These TV-static graphics, combined with cramped dialogue bubbles, at first threaten to jar an otherwise brilliant story, but soon the creative team level out. In fact, this reviewer would dare to go so far as to say the effect was intentional, with the grainy art almost “uploading” us into the comic as we read.
Issue 2 like its predecessor, remains strongly-paced, allowing the series to circumvent the graveyard of other cyberpunk and sci-fi creations which sacrificed story on the altar of detail. A couple of new characters also join the fray, including corporate muscle Theodore and love-interest Katie. The stakes for Sam are heightened too, as he encounters for the first time deadly viruses, conspiracy, and a face from the past.
Will Sam be able to reconcile his duty with the truth? Will he finally prove to Katie who he really is? Whose side is Miranda on, who is behind the attack on the facility, and why is a friend from Sam’s past showing up again now? Hard Wyred has asked a lot of questions in its first two issues. We’ll have to wait until instalment 3 to find the answers!