Clockwerx review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Humanoids - 978-1-59465-160-1
  • Release date: 2009
  • Format: 2016
  • UPC: 9781594651601
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Matt Thurow is a complex and compromised man in need of redemption. Once a London police detective in a steampunk world during the early 20th century, having served a five year sentence for corruption he’s now disgraced, although he claims he’s honest and to have been caught mid-investigation.

The three man writing team are united by games industry experience, although Izu (Guillaume Dorison) has a parallel comics career, and Jason Henderson has written a handful of other comics projects. They present a viable background of an engineer commissioned to work on advanced robotic designs who eventually realises the organisation she works for doesn’t have humanity’s best interests at heart. What she then does isn’t revealed at once, so she’s a mysterious presence to begin with, her allegiances uncertain.

What’s not uncertain is the phenomenal talent of artist Jean-Baptiste Hostache. His background is animation, and that comes through in the amazing detail seen on the robotic creations and the locations, whether external or internal. The sheer effort applied surely induces shudders in other artists, and there are some amazing looking panels. Hostache isn’t quite as accomplished when it comes to people, who aren’t easily distinguished, and a little stiff, but they’re not what most readers are going to be looking at.

Once the assorted players and their motivations are revealed, Clockwerx is a relatively simple story. The one big failing is a lack of emotional impact, with scenes either underplayed or considerably exaggerated. Tragedies occur, but characters go on as if nothing has happened, yet on other occasions they’re prompted to violence by truthful comments, which isn’t believable. Neither are revelations designed to shock being matters likely to have been previously revealed to the people concerned. All of this is further affected by occasionally clunky dialogue, while the final battle is rapid and features another set of convenient disclosures.

The final page sets up a sequel that never arrived, which isn’t really surprising. Hostache is the star turn, and he won’t have been short of other offers.