Comic Strip Review: O Human Star Volume One by Blue Delliquanti
Roboticist Alastair Sterling wakes from a dream of dying to find out it was true. His mind is now in a synthetic being (“robot” if you will) body that looks exactly like his human body did sixteen years ago. Two other synthetic beings, who look like designs he came up with years ago, drive Al to the home of his old partner, Brendan Pinsky, whose money they claim was used to create Al’s new body.
Except that Brendan claims he did no such thing, which brings up the question of just who did–and why does Brendan’s teenage daughter Sulla look so much like Al? These mysteries must be looked into while Al attempts to reconnect with the people he left behind.
This science-fiction romance story has been running at http://ohumanstar.com/chapter-1-title-page/ since 2012. The title comes from Karel Capek’s play R.U.R. which is referenced in several ways in the strip. It’s won a couple of awards for Ms. Delliquanti, and a bound volume of the first three chapters is now available for those of us who like paper.
This is a slowly developing story; these first three chapters cover a bit more than 24 hours in the current day, with frequent flashbacks. Those flashbacks are tinted in reddish tones, while the 2021 parts are in bluish tones, which makes it easy to tell which is which. We see how Al and Brendan’s relationship began, and the small beginnings of what will become full-fledged synthetic beings. (Who have rights!) We also see the strains on their relationship–Al is closeted, and even after his death Brendan kept the fact that they were lovers a secret even from Sulla.
In the present day, the mystery of Sulla takes precedence as she gets to know her father’s friend (and sort of also her father), and makes outside friends her own age for the first time. She’s very bright, but also sheltered due to her unique upbringing.
Meanwhile, Brendan is on an emotional rollercoaster. The man he thought was dead forever is now alive…sort of, and Brendan wants to welcome him back, but can’t help worrying that there’s a darker motive behind this gift.
The art is good by webcomic standards, with all the characters being easy to tell apart (and Sulla’s family resemblance to Al being obvious) and the setting being recognizable as Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The cast is quite diverse, especially given its small size so far, in terms of sexuality, ethnicity and obviousness of synthetic parts. I also like that the two people whose love story it is are middle-aged.
The book is rated as “Mature Readers” and there is some partial male nudity in a sexual context. However, I think there’s nothing here that would be shocking to a fairly mature high-schooler–conservative parents might be more concerned.
There are some sketchbook pages in the back as an incentive to buy the collected volume. While these chapters are largely set-up, the availability of future volumes will depend on sales of this one, so please consider it.