Thursday, August 18, 2011

REVIEW: Domina: Society's Ilk by Edmund Alexander Sims

What an odd little story, so very different from what I would normally read, and so completely opposite of what I expected. At first, I had a hard time getting into the story, simply because of the way in which it’s structured. It jumps between news broadcasts, third-person narrative asides, first-person narration, and abrupt changes in POV. I actually had to stop, think about what I was reading for a moment, and forget whatever expectations I brought into it with me.

That’s when everything suddenly fell into place. In essence, this is a comic book without the comics, a graphic novel that’s missing the graphics. It has that narrative feel of a superhero comic book, so much so that you can envision the dialogue bubbles, narrative panels, and split-scene POVs. Like I said earlier, it’s an odd way to tell a story, but once you understand that’s what you’re reading, it is a lot of fun.

Not only that, but it becomes a much more clever story.

Domina is a superheroine who, as both a character and a narrator, is almost ironically self-aware, and able to offer commentary on that absurdity of her role. You need to accept the graphic-less graphic novel to really appreciate her storytelling, but the story itself is delightfully self-aware as well. In her civilian disguise, Domina leads a global corporation that secretly uses her superheroine technology to develop, market, and distributes toy and video games based on the secret science fiction exploits of one its other Executive officers.

It may sound like something that has the potential for campy silliness, but it’s a very sombre, serious, straightforward science-fiction story that has a lot of potential for future instalments. The nanite technology used in Domina’s costuming and equipment is fascinating, and it’s refreshing to see it exploited outside the secret lair. For the most part, the supervillains (and one other superhero) are as practical and plausible as Domina, and she is quite happy to call out those who embrace their comic-book silliness. It's also a story that explores the implications of superpowers and advanced technology, with Domina's actions not only impacting a loyal employee and his family, but giving rise to the supervillain introduced in the final act.

Like any good comic book, of course, the story ends on a cliff-hanger. It has certainly left me wanting more and, while I would love a full-length Domina novel, a series of serialized adventures seems entirely appropriate.

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