The world of Terra Fantasme was a wonder among worlds, rich in beauty and technology far ahead of its time. Its dominant life forms, The Fantasmen, had evolved beyond the need for physical bodies, transformed into spiritual beings of pure thought and energy. This evolution came at a curious cost however, with most of the Fantasmen becoming super-intelligent yet detached from any sense of morality.
Desperate for a way to stop the war-making among the Fantasmen that had come to dominate their way of life, an Ambassador from among the few “good” Fantasmen left went out into the universe to find a planet whose people might provide a balance to their increasingly erratic behavior. Eleven years later, the ambassador found Earth.
A bargain was reached – Technology for Morality. The Fantasmen would bond themselves to suitable Humans – a process they called Dissonance. Both beings would be enhanced by the union, with some becoming two minds in a single body (half-synch) or a new being with the memories and powers of both host and spirit (full-synch). Upon the hosts’ death, the Fantasmen could return home with their sense of morality restored. It seemed a grand bargain for all involved, yet things are rarely so simple and the fate of Man and Fantasmen is about to be forever changed…
Dissonance is based around a bold concept, but this first issue does almost nothing with it beyond the opening two pages that establish its world. After that, we are thrust without explanation into a fashion show where the designer – a world-famous figure who just happens to be a fully-synch – is assassinated before the whole world. This turns out to be the work of an Illuminati-like body, who rule the world in secret through orchestrated acts of terror. This, in turn, introduces us to the feuding siblings Folke and Roisia of House Herviett.
As interesting as the base idea behind the world of Dissonance is, the actual plot, based around the conflict between the siblings, is sorely lacking. It’s the usual sibling rivalry of two rich, self-absorbed brats determined to prove themselves the only one worthy of the family fortune, set against the backdrop of the usual group of rich jerks running everything that lies at the heart of most seemingly Utopic science-fiction societies.
The most interesting sequence of the issue is where we get to see something of the world outside of the ivory towers of the ruling classes, where an unsynched Fantasman named Seraphim has come to Earth in search of a criminal Fantasman. Unfortunately, this has no baring to the rest of the story so far. This proves unfortunate as Seraphim is the closest thing the series has to a likable protagonist and even he’s about as interesting as a cardboard cutout.
It’s a crying shame the plot and characters are so dull because this book looks fantastic. I greatly enjoyed Sami Basri’s recent work on Batgirl and his work here is even better, with a wide variety of interesting and unique aliens on display. The color art by Saki Yuwono is bright and beautiful, making every page of this book look amazing… right up until the moment you actually try to wade through the stilted expository dialogue.
It can be hoped that Dissonance will scan better in a single-reading once the trade-paperback edition arrives. Unfortunately, there is little here, apart from the artwork, to make me want to read the second issue to see if it gets any better.
Dissonance #1 goes on sale on January 24, 2018. Reserve it now on Comixology.