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The Private Eye: Volume One (Panel Syndicate, 2013; #1-5)

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In a future when everyone’s personal information on the internet inexplicably became publicly available, privacy is now king.  People cover their faces and move through the world under fake names.  Search histories are closely held secrets protected by law.  And the internet is dead and gone.  But a shadowy figure is up to something, and when he kills our protagonist PI’s latest client, PI and the victim’s sister team up to track down the murderer and investigate his scheme.

At its core, Brian K. Vaughan’s story is an old-school noir tale.  But what sets it apart are its retro-futurist trappings.  Vaughan and Martin have imagined a world defined entirely by its reaction to having lost its privacy.  What technologies have evolved are disconnected, designed to neither collect nor aggregate information about their users.  Secrets aren’t protected by shady thugs or a person’s wealth, but by law.  The ways that these legal, social, and technological changes ripple through the book are intentional and interesting.  And despite their sci-fi trappings, they feel realistic, like logical extensions of where our culture today might head if we dealt with the Cloudburst ourselves.

Those sci-fi trappings—and, more generally, the world’s often retro-inspired design aesthetics—are where Marcos Martin gets to shine in his art.  Everything he puts on the page is at the top of his game, but when he gets to invent—whether crazy costumes or evolved technology or pulpy design elements that have crept into this world—his creativity and playfulness shine through to make the book’s most memorable moments.  And colorist Muntsa Vicente reinforces the vibrancy and liveliness in every page with her colors.  Their art is the driving force behind the book, giving Vaughan’s noir tale a unique, unforgettable world as its playground.

The Private Eye is a clever, engaging mystery comic that puts world-building first.  It is the product of three talented creators doing their best work, and it’s absolutely worth a read.  And there’s no excuse to not give it a try, since it’s all available on the Panel Syndicate website digitally for pay-what-you-want prices.  

Collected in

  • The Private Eye: Volume One (#1-5, digital-only on Panel Syndicate)
  • The Private Eye: The Cloudburst Edition (#1-10)

Credits

Writers: Brian K. Vaughan | Artist: Marcos Martin | Colorist: Muntsa Vicente

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