Review: Cognetic #3

I didn’t read Mimetic before this so maybe I shouldn’t be as impressed as I am by writer James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan’s ability to pull off an apocalypse in just three issues. By keeping the emotional focus on Blue and Red’s (Annie) physical and ideological struggle as well as Red’s relationship with Mel, her partner, the comic manages to give the book a satisfying emotional conclusion. And all this occurs amid a battle between two kaiju monsters made up of the bodies of possessed humans. It’s sci-fi horror the way that blockbuster movies wish they could pull off, and it does by keeping the end of the world tightly focused on three primary colors, and one human woman. One of the cooler things about Cognetic is that it devotes just the right amount of space to exploring the origins of Red, Blue and their siblings never belaboring details that aren’t relevant to the present-day apocalypse. Last time we got to see the moment where they acquired an ambiguous power set from eating an alien’s brain, and here we’re treated to a scene where Red and her siblings bury Blue alive after he attempts to spread his consciousness throughout the world. What I like about this scene is that it serves multiple purposes: it shows us where Blue has been all these years; shows Red’s influence over her siblings; and also gives us insight into the ethical sacrifices Red has made in order to allow humans to maintain dominion over the Earth.

Cognetic-#3-1Donovan especially deserves some mad props for his ability to transition between large-scale fight scenes and conversations while making both equally captivating. In the brawl over Manhattan, Tynion admirably lets Donovan do the work of getting across the stakes of the fight through wordless panels that show us the casualties resulting from Blue and Red’s fight. With Steve Wand’s color-coded lettering, things are never confusing even as Blue and Red talk and fight through new bodies, allowing for compelling scene transitions such as going from the kaiju battle to a one-on-one fight between Red and Blue in two individual bodies where the dialogue from the larger fight continues on in the second.

However, of all the things this comic has going for it, what I found most impressive was the creators’ ability to make Red an empathetic character even as she’s essentially killing mass groups of people in an effort to take down her brother. Like her wife Mel, I found it very eerie that Red/Annie thought they could resume their relationship if Red succeeded at killing Blue via some pretty desperate measures. Red’s desire for relative normalcy with her wife and daughter make her blind to the obvious harshness and inhumanity of her actions, and I think this more than her suddenly having become at the end of last issue is what freaks Mel out so much. And the manner in which their relationship comes to an end this issue really brings it to a satisfying conclusion.

My only issue with this comic is that the ambiguity of the characters’ origins and their powersets sometimes presented inconsistencies that I didn’t understand. For instance, during the fight between Red and Blue, we’re shown Red talking to Blue through several bodies in several places, which makes sense because Blue is there. Right after though, we’re shown another of Red’s bodies observing the fight on television and yet that body is also talking as if Blue is in the room. My impression prior to this is that Red could independently control these bodies, so this proved a bit confusing. I figure it was likely for dramatic effect, but it was a decision that brought up a question that the comic didn’t have time or interest in answering.

Tynion and Donovan have got one more miniseries to go in their apocalypse trilogy, and I’m interested to see what they’ve learned from Mimetic and Cognetic in order to tell even wilder and heartfelt stories about the end of the world.

Score: 3/5

Cognetic #3 Writer: James Tynion IV Artist: Eryk Donovan Colorist: Juan Manuel Tumburús Letterist: Steve Wands Publisher: BOOM! Studios Release Date: 12/16/15 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital