Best known for his work on the Incredible Hulk, writer Greg Pak’s passion for the hi-tech gadgetry that permeates the twenty first century is something of a hidden gem. With his three-part mini-series Vision Machine, Pak has created not just an entertaining comic book but also taken a swipe at Apple, PC, The Internet and Facebook all in one fell swoop. This is a cautionary tale, a possible look into a future not so far off if we continue to remain as plugged in as we are. Vision Machine has a potpourri of Sci-Fi influences including elements from Terminator, The Matrix and even some Blade Runner. I don’t mean that to sound like Pak is ripping anything off, more like taking Sci-Fi constants and pushing them into a direction that would make Isaac Asimov proud.
Set in 2061, Vision Machine tells the story of the iEye, a pair of glasses that allows you to record, edit, add special effects to anything you see and connect it to the web. Naturally this phenomenon goes global and the Government decides to use it as a tracking and infiltration device. Enter Buddy, Jane and Dave, three film students who have completely embraced the iEye idea. Vision Machine #3 finds these characters, a year later, in very different places. Jane has become an unwitting pawn of the Government who plan to use her incredible abilities to create and destroy within the virtual world to squash the rebellion. Meanwhile Buddy, joining up with former Sprout Company (who designed the iEye) CEO Liz Evers, is knee deep in the rebellion. Liz is using "jailbroken" (a cool word for hacked) iEye glasses to try and find a way into the master server and stop this global condition. With Jane destroying each new world Liz creates, her master plan now involves Buddy and his long burning feelings for Jane.
See what I mean, it’s a lot to drink in and this is only issue #3. Like anything worthwhile, Vision Machine is a commitment, to both the story and the characters. No matter how good of a writer Greg Pak is, anybody who joins with issue #3 will be confused. I fully support anything that forces a reader to become truly involved but those looking for a quick Dark Knight or web slinging fix may be put off. If you choose to buy in, Vision Machine is an excellent ride, a superbly crafter hi-tech thriller that gushes with Pak’s love of dialog and sense of humor. Usually futuristic tales like this become bogged down in their own need to seem…well…. futuristic. There’s unnecessary new words thrown in for old terms, the people look too post-pink Class Of 1984, and the entire weight of the project collapses on it. Pak avoids these pitfalls by basing this in a real world, a world of the future, but still one very real. He also gives us characters we can connect with, even down to the kind of cliché “Evil” president.
The art from R.B. Silva is cool, not my cup of tea, but nicely brought together. I love the focused characters in each panel but find the backgrounds to be a little devoid of life, something Silva might have been going for. With something as steeped in Sci-Fi as Vision Machine, there’s a certain type of art that goes hand and hand with the story. Silva’s work feels like that, which is awesome for the story, however it just didn’t move me at all. Vision Machine #3 is a wonderful final act, a nice climax to a story that’s both enjoyable and relevant. Once again Greg Pak proves that when it comes to comics, there’s very little he can’t do.