Cover Image: Relay TP Vol. 1

Relay TP Vol. 1

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Member Reviews

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In a far-flung future, in a universe united culturally by the ‘Galactic Relay’. But the Relay has secrets, and some of those, when revealed, burn.

Honestly, I found this story intriguing, but very confusing. The idea of a universe forcibly united by a monolithic structure is dystopian to my mind, and while the story of delving into what lies behind the Relay was intriguing, I’m not really sure I understood everything that was going all the time. The artwork of the story is nice, more comics than graphic novel, but the way the story was told just seemed to lose me at points. There were neat concepts buried in the story that are definitely worth exploring, but I came away feeling like I just hadn’t gotten everything that the writers meant to convey.
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This is the kind of high concept science fiction that bores me to tears.  It's more philosophy discussion than science fiction about a society that forces the Relay on other civilizations forcing them into the same mono-culture wiping out their own uniqueness.  Then there's the concept of meeting your maker and finding out he's just a man, as fallible as any other person.  It's the kind of sci-fi that's been done many times before.  I was quickly wore down by how wordy this was, taking entire issues to get to a minor point.  This was just not for me.  Andy Clarke is a great artist though.
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So this thing called the Relay spreads from world to world, teaching people its own version of interstellar history. A Monolith goes up on a world and the Monolith issues edicts. Its followers believe the edicts and kill unbelievers as they spread the Relay to new worlds.

As told by the Relay, the story is that a fellow named Donaldson was like the interstellar Johnny Appleseed, going from world to world and teaching people how to grow crops and build dams and create sustainable ecosystems. The truth might be something quite different.

The protagonist, Jad Carter, swallows all of this until he meets Donaldson, or someone who looks like him. Donaldson wants nothing to do with spreading the word, because the Relay’s plan to reduce want and conflict also reduces innovation and growth. Jad’s encounter with Donaldson earns him an unpleasant trip into the monolith and eventually has him searching for the truth, which he might find by joining the Anti Relay Alliance.

Relay is an interesting allegory about totalitarian control disguised as benign guidance. The dialog is a little wordy — Jad can’t shut up, even when he’s talking to himself — but the art is decent and the story has merit. I’m not sure it will go anywhere but the five issues collected here are entertaining.
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This was an interesting premise and I liked the artwork, but I just couldn't get into the story. I ended up stopping after the first few chapters, because it wasn't holding my interest.
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What if Humanity was nothing more than a gigantic experiment made true by a giant monolith?

What if Humanity itself was....a creation of its own evils?

What if Humanity was deep down, never the morally good race as we like to depict ourselves, but as the violent human beings that became corrupted after the Gods left us? Ra broke with humanity, Vishnu reincarnated ten times onto this earth to defeat earth, before in Kal-Yug. Were the Gods aliens? Or who were the aliens in the relay?

What drives hope? What drives fear? Why should humanity suffer and not prosper?

These are some of the deep implications that this comic will make you question. It questions your morality, it shows you a dark side of humanity that is comparable to Star Trek and Babylon 5.

There is not much I can say but I did not want this to finish. Not at all. It was an amazing novel. I would ask that the next series focuses a little less on the scientific jargon and makes it more accessible. This could easily be a movie in its own right.

Why has no one adopted this as a movie? Come on Hollywood, adapt!

5/5
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I found it had an interesting idea and artwork was pretty nice two but I did struggle with most the text It would have been better if it6 was way easier to understand.
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Relay at once straddles the fine line between homage and plagiarism, and creates a novel universe with a compelling, contemplative, and complex story. The Relay is an often misunderstood hyperobject, hellbent on bending reality and assimilating the universe. Think the Borg in 2001, with Plantery guides written by Asimov, Bester, Dick, Herbert, LeGuin, et al., on a micro-dose of mushrooms. Great art, with stunning visuals and slightly off coloring (in a good way) provide the cherry on top. I’ll definitely be watching out for the next volume.
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It's not often you see a sci-fi story that goes into how the current world is starting to look. Okay maybe you do, but that is exactly why series like these exist. You have this monolith trying to assimilate everything into a singular culture; all the while trying to erase anything that this new culture doesn't agree with. Everything it can't erase, it just leaves to die or hides from view. Truths are something very important to anyone. The problem is that the truth can be manipulated into whatever suits their interests; even when it's right in front of them. They need something big to shake them awake, otherwise they end up being hollow about not getting everything they want. Unfortunately, it's not always a good thing, which is why the ending leaving things ambiguous is so good.
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The introduction mentioned that one of RELAY's influences was the work of Philip K. Dick, which prepped me for a cerebral piece of sci-fi. I was ready for that. 

There sure is an exciting idea at the core of RELAY. The Relays themselves are meant to inspire conformity of ideas, technology, and progress. The idea that a species capable of interstellar space travel would either ignore or erase any lesser advanced people and planets. That idea is there, and how subtle the Relays do it is original, but it doesn't develop. For me, the story kept rehashing questions the lead character, Jad Carter, asked that he started asking during his first run-in with a fake version of the Relay's creator Hank Donaldson. Yes, Jad eventually finds the real Hank Donaldson, but after five chapters it felt the information about, and development of the world, for me, is constantly rehashed. 

Unfortunately, I couldn't connect with this story. It's professionally produced but didn't work for me.

The art is pretty good even though it does seem to be scared of a close-up. It invoked Moebius's work on The Incal, which means it's pretty solid except for not much variation of its "shot" selection.
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'Relay Vol. 1: by Zac Thompson and Donny Cates with art by Andy clarke and Ryan Bodenheim is a graphic novel with kind of a hard science fiction premise.  

The graphic novel starts with a monolith known as the Galactic Relay arriving on a planet and a man named Hank Donaldson who is sent to colonize and homogenize worlds.  A man named Jad Carter is an employee of Relay and his job is to quell dissension.  He becomes curious about his job, his world, and who Hank Donaldson is.   This sends him on a journey that turns out to be weirder than expected.

Is monoculture a good idea at the expense of others or do we benefit from diverse paths of growth?  What really makes a legend and is it something we should never question?  

These are some of the questions raised by the book, and while it doesn't necessarily answer them, I think it's more interesting that they get raised for the reader to think about.  

The art works well.  The characters and story are interesting.  I liked this one.

I received a review copy of this graphic novel from Diamond Book Distributors and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for allowing me to review this graphic novel.
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I loved the hyper-detail of the art style. I couldn’t connect with the story at the beginning and remained confused as I tried to get further into it. It starts very high level and philosophical, and it felt like I was missing key knowledge in order to really understand what was going on.
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Relay, a new science fiction comic series from Aftershock Comics, is both refreshingly original and frustratingly opaque. The story is set far in the future. In accord with the dominant religion, humans invite a giant device known as a “relay” onto each planet they have colonized. The relays guide human evolution, speeding up the process of civilization, but also impose uniformity. The main character, Jad, begins as a true believer, but ultimately starts to wonder about the true purpose of the relays. 

This is a comic that is clearly interested in big ideas about the nature of truth and the dangers of cultural stagnation. Relay is ambitious, it’s weird, and it’s not afraid to challenge its readers.At times, it comes across like a blend between the vast sweep of 2001: A Space Odyssey and mind-bending nature of a Philip K. Dick novel. The plot moves quickly and often shifts before it’s settled – just like a PKD story.

If anything, I found the comic a bit too disorienting. Relay doesn’t invest much time in word-building. It expects readers to learn about the setting and the characters as the story unfolds. That approach have could worked if the plot didn’t move so quickly. This volume only has six issues, yet I barely got to know the characters before they were killed, radically altered, or underwent an existential crisis. In a few cases, the artwork didn’t clearly communicate the action, adding to the confusion. Truthfully, I’m not even sure if the story concluded at the end of this volume or if Aftershock plans to continue the series.

I could see how Relay might not catch on with most readers. It’s a challenging read, not always helped by the writing or the art. But it is a story that has something to say – a rare commodity these days. I’m glad I read Relay and might try it again, taking time to appreciate the Dickensian nature of the tale. The story might make more sense on a second pass. It’s definitely not a book I’d recommend to everyone.

[Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]
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Science fiction meets graphic novel with very good results.  I would recommend this title for lovers of this medium and genre.
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I think the short comings for me personally in this book is due to my lack of knowledge from the classic sci-fi this graphic novel is based of off or was inspired from. I have no idea what it is about or what the context is. I also do not fare well with philosophical meandering exposes regarding faith and religion. I thank Net Galley for giving me a chance to try before I buy this, sad to say I will pass.
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I flew through this first arc before reality set in and I realized that was it. Done. Finished. No more, son. I think I’m going to wait for an entire series to finish so that I can binge read it (like I do with novels) because man, I hate it when you’re just getting into the depth of something and it ends way sooner than you’d like.

That’s not to say the ending was “short-lived”. I’m happy it ended when it did, otherwise I wouldn’t get my other reviews done.

RELAY is a hard-hitting science fiction series with thoughts and opinions that bleed off the pages into your own reality. Often this is mostly found in really great novels or a select few comics which have the intention of being as dynamic and influential as possible. This approach adds more weight to the story and the ideas Thompson explores.

“Thought-provoking” is a term you can mentally stick onto the next issue when it comes out.

Cover art is always fascinating to look at, but unfortunately you’re not always getting the same artist filling in the body of the comic. That job falls to artists like Dalibor Talajić who does just an excellent job at it. His character drawings and environments really speak for themselves, especially the subtle expressions he fits into them.

Take José Villarrubia (colorist) and Charles Pritchett’s (letterer) expert use of color and typography into account with all of the above, and you’re thrust into a universe of believable high-tech, twisted idealogoies, and the always-present grim darkness of space.

Would recommend. (Would steal.) Would purchase.
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