There are degrees to which a comic can be bad. A story that wastes the potential of a good idea is a mildly unpleasant experience, a mediocre comic is a dull annoyance, a bad comic is actively painful to read, but truly awful comics, the ones that simply have no redeeming value, are the ones you forget instantly. And as I write this review a mere half day after reading Symmetry #2, I am unable to remember any substantive detail of the book. It's a vague, dull wash of malfunctioning robots, awkward dialogue, and some distant relative of social commentary (but more toothless and unfocused). I'd call Symmetry #2 a train wreck, but that implies a certain degree of excitement and spectacle, so this issue is more like a toddler in a big wheel quietly tipping over. Symmetry #1 was not a good comic by any means, but it was a straightforward one which setup a potentially interesting world. Issue two immediately muddies the waters by showing us confusing events three years, then in the present, all while narration references events as being five years ago. Frankly, I have no idea how the future prologue relates to the rest of the issue (in fact, it's possible there are more flash forwards that I somehow missed). This is perhaps not a problem as the prologue's astoundingly silly riot scene does not seem to tie to the rest of the issue at all anyway--problem solved!
When last we left our main character (I believe his name is Matthew or Mark...but all the characters look the same and have similar names so for the purposes of this review, I will call him Roy), he was learning the wonders of new ethnicities while dealing with the disastrous fallout from a solar flare. Roy is obsessed with the first non-Caucasian he has ever seen and tries repeatedly to communicate with her. Poor Roy doesn't understand the concept of skin color, race, or language barriers which is going to make for an awkward relationship (the narrator, Roy from the future, informs us they are married).
Standing in Roy's way, and being a very poor wingman, is an authoritative blond woman who informs us that the girl is different and should be kept separate. It's a heavy-handed plot point and unfortunately one that is repeated continuously throughout the issue. We get it, the future is segregated and this is bad. Clearly we are being led down the path to a forbidden relationship, but with character like Roy and Spanish girl as players, I can't say the idea is very enticing.
The issue is split roughly in half between scenes of Roy and his compatriots attempting to survive for the first time without support and the machinations of society's arrogant leaders. This latter plot point is so entirely boring that I will ignore it entirely in favor of the other. The conceit of Symmetry is that humanity has become cutoff from the real world in their robot servant paradise. Robbed of this lifeline for the first time, Roy and company are attempting to survive in a dangerous environment. This might be a great story point, if the dialogue were not clunky. Lines like 'Her skin is so dark, what is she?, 'give me all the food', and 'we have to do stuff for ourselves from now on?' read like the over-serious statements of a precocious six-year-old. Others like 'diversity is forbidden' read like rejected taglines to YA films.
To add a final, unfortunate touch to an already hobbled issue is the art, which though occasionally pretty, has more deficits than can be counted. It has the uncanny valley 3D quality of a video game coupled with the blank, simplified background of, well, a video game. Most problematic are the facial expressions which run the gamut from awkwardly funny to horrifyingly unnatural. It is hard to feel any warmth for these humanoid abominations as they stiffly stumble from exaggerated posture to exaggerated posture.
The stiff writing and unnatural art of Symmetry #2 work together to make one a comic entirely devoid of charisma and life. Each over-sincere narration box and clichéd sci-fi plot point is perfectly tone-deaf creating what will likely be one of the worst comics of the year.
Symmetry #2 Writer: Matt Hawkins Artist: Raffaele Lenco Publisher: Top Cow/Image Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/20/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital