By Arpad Okay. From the first page, I’m glad Surgeon X is back. The artwork is understated and vivid, the colors still unparalleled. The look grabs you. Each panel is mindfully uncluttered but still rich in detail. The professional, classic touch of Watkiss’ pen evokes David Lloyd’s work on another dystopian work: V for Vendetta.
Surgeon X is nowhere nearly as hedged in with nostalgia as V, nor does it lack for detail, but a balance is struck. Above all else, room is made for expression. For nuance. It’s hard sci-fi, it’s medical what ifs, but I believe time will reveal the most important factor of Surgeon X to be a story about family.
The writing from Sara Kenney is sharp as tacks, the story moves at a serious clip despite being loaded with a deep cache of striking ideas. Its concerns are biology and technology and philosophy. These big thinks pop up and rush by as the doctor tries to keep her schedule. Lucky for us, the reader can linger on what fascinates, play it back a hundred times, and the story is uninterrupted. Not a stop or a pause.
Surgeon X can get away with monster throwaways because we can examine them and remain engulfed in the story. That’s the mark of rock-solid science fiction; you try to follow the plot while all the incidental ideas light up your imagination like aurora borealis.
This issue’s theme is the repercussions of ignorance in the face of medical emergency. Problems arise when people try to go outside the system and misdiagnose and mistreat their symptoms. Problems when people don’t have the patience for the drugs to work, people who go off their meds. Problems with politics, with fascists buying and selling healthcare. Problems with doctors who are dead on the inside. The issues within Surgeon X hit quite close to home, reflections of the now that are a little too spot-on for comfort, given how thoroughly messed up Surgeon X’s London actually is. This book doesn’t feel like the future. It feels like our future. Let’s hope we get some heroes as explicitly awesome as Rosa Scott.
Written by Sara Kenney.
Illustrated by John Watkiss.
Colored by James Devlin.
Lettered by Jared K. Fletcher.
Edited by Karen Berger.
8 out of 10