Friday, February 25, 2022

#IReadsYou Review: RED ROOM: The Antisocial Network #3


EDITOR: Eric Reynolds
COVER: Ed Piskor
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Ed Piskor; Jim Rugg; Takashi Okazaki; Johnny Desjardins; John Gallagher
MISC. ART: The Baumanator; Sam Majkrzak; Jeff Manley; Birds of Sadness; Jorge Paz; Ben Perkins; Bill McEvoy; John Ashton Golden; Adam Lemnah; Sean Hollenhors; Tyrone Meijer; Barry Tan; Colin Sims; Matt Conover; Chris Anderson
24pp, B&W with some color, $3.99 U.S. (July 2021)

Red Room: The Antisocial Network is a 12-issue new comic book series from cartoonist Ed Piskor.  Piskor is best known for Hip Hop Family Tree, a comic book that chronicles the early history of Hip-hop culture and that has been published in both graphic novel and serial comic book form.

Publisher Fantagraphics Books describes Red Room: The Antisocial Network as “a cyberpunk, outlaw, splatterpunk masterpiece.”  Red Room focuses on a murderous, dark web subculture in which a secretive audience pays with cryptocurrency so that it can view “murder for entertainment” in real time via webcam.  A “Red Room” is a place on the Internet with an encrypted I.P. address.  Each Red Room is a webcam stream where viewers can watch a “torture star” murder another human being in the most brutal, savage, vile, and stomach-turning ways.

Red Room: The Antisocial Network #3 introduces Levee Turks.  Once upon a time, he was an encryption software prodigy.  Now, he's serving a life sentence for creating an online drug empire, and he has been in prison for six and a half years.  In that time, however, the dark web has made use of  what Levee created:  the suite of encryption software he made for the black market; the “Chat” client; the bitcoin trading app; and the “Anonymous” video streaming.  Hell, all his creations are in service of the Red Rooms' multi-billion dollar snuff industry.

Enter the FBI, led by Agent McNamara, proposing a deal.  McNamara wants Levee Turks to infiltrate the Red Rooms and help the FBI crack Red Room software, so that it can crack down on the deepest corners of the dark web. Reunited with his girlfriend, Rita, Levee discovers how much as changed.  Does he really know what he is getting into?

THE LOWDOWN:  I don't have much to say about Red Room #3.  Of course, it is a damn good comic book, and I've already made this clear in reviews of previous issues.  The Red Room isn't dystopian science fiction; I believe that it is actually prescient – if not now, sooner than we would like to believe.

Ed Piskor does also offer a nice change of pace with Red Room #3.  Thus far, he has proven quite skilled and deft in creating interesting characters that are cogs in the Red Room gore-covered wheels, such as issue #1's David Fairfield and issue #2's Doctor Daniels.  It would be great to see Levee Turks and Rita again … before they're chopped up.  It is funny that they are both clueless and in deeper than they could ever imagine.

Red Room #3 proves that Red Room was both one of the best debuts of 2021 and one of the best comic books of the year.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Ed Piskor's work and of alternative comics as science fiction will want to read Red Room.

9 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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