By Garrett Hanneken
There is definitely a big deal of mystery that goes with Relay. The sense of enigma mixed with a technologically advanced environment results in a sci-fi story that is both familiar and unique.
The center point of this comic is a monolith known simply as The Relay. Nobody knows how it got there, but they know who brought it. This man known as Hank Donaldson is seen as a savior for some, but to others, he is viewed as a captor that forced people to believe in The Relay. The mystery comes into play when the characters attempt to find why the Monolith exists and in doing so, the final truth of reality will be revealed. It all seems pretty ambiguous, but that is what makes the comic shine.
I found myself rereading this issue in order to better grasp what the followers of The Relay are trying to uncover. What I came to realize is that The Relay followers are pious and like other religions, they believe in order to be saved. However, and what makes this comic interesting, is that proof and salvation can be physically discovered rather than relying on pure faith. It is just a matter of finding this physical proof and by the end of the issue you come to realize that this will come to fruition
The characters in this comic also further enhance its comparison to religion. On one side you have a firm believer and on the other you have a skeptic. As the two converse, both points are brought up as to what The Relay is and whether it is good or bad. This allows the reader to learn more about the world through conversation rather than narrative exposition while also learning about the characters themselves.
Again, this comic makes another comparison to religion. This comes when we discover that planets are being assimilated to learn about The Relay and become connected under one truth. It is either accept The Relay or be annihilated. With all this said, this story makes for one hell of a futuristic missionary.
Along with the story, the art establishes the environment. Panels filled with crowded areas, skyscrapers, hover cars and digital billboards really give the reader a feel for the future. Overall, the panels made me feel like I was watching movies such as Blade Runner or Total Recall.
An enigmatic first issue that touches on topics such as faith and skepticism, Relay #1 is a unique sci-fi comic that will bring readers back to learn more about this world.