Or so The Smiths — and, a few years later, Grant Morrison — would have us believe, but if there’s one thing the billionaire space race has taught us, it’s that these assholes are looking to commodify everything, Earthbound and otherwise, in their dick-measuring contest writ large. One of the most remarkable things about Lane Milburn’s new full-length hardback graphic novel, Lure (Fantagraphics, 2021), though, is that he started work on it some five years ago, long before Bezos, Branson, Musk, and their ilk decided the stars were their destination.
Okay, there’s one wrinkle in that it is Earth’s fictitious twin planet of Lure (hence the title) that the story’s Amazon stand-in has set its sights on for capitalist exploitation, but other than that you’ve gotta say that this is an eerily predictive slice of sci-fi, in addition to being a thoughtfully-written and gorgeously-rendered one. Our main protagonist, Jo, and her friends/co-workers are very much like people you and I know (if you’ll forgive the assumption that your social circle isn’t entirely dissimilar to my own) in that they’re artists making ends meet by voluntarily conscripting their creativity in service of “The Man,” but the stakes here are higher than than those attendant with, say, building a sculpture garden on a Silicon Valley corporate “campus”: if their 3-D holographic show goes off as planned, the world’s business and political leaders will be “all in” on a plan to let the Earth go to rot and kick off a new era of economic imperialism all over again under the unsullied (for now, at any rate) skies of our largely-aquatic neighbor world. So, yeah — it’s fair to say Milburn’s cosmic playground is equal parts eminently relatable and decidedly less so.
Still, it’s always better to leave readers wanting than it is to overstay one’s welcome, and Milbun is first and foremost a highly intuitive artist : he knew when he’d said all that he had to say with these characters and proceeded to give his narrative a jarring, but entirely apropos, finale rather than belabor any of the points he was making. I respect the hell out of that even if it means a more concise book than I might have wanted personally — but seriously, how many readers other than myself are going to consider 192 pages to be “too short” in the first place? I don’t know much, it’s true, but I know when I’m standing alone.
As is Lure on the whole. As we make our way inexorably toward the end of another calendar year and the onslaught of “Top 10” lists come part and parcel with it, you can expect to see this book near the top of many of them.
Lure is available for $29.99 directly from Fantagraphics (fuck Amazon) at https://www.fantagraphics.com/products/lure?_pos=1&_psq=lur&_ss=e&_v=1.0
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