The cover was the first thing that caught my attention. A banner at the bottom reads:
"Sex * Violence * Epistemology. What More Do You Need to Know?" Indeed, indeed!
And does The Blue Llly, subtitled "Rusty Spade, Metaphysical Metal Detective," deliver as advertised? Sex: No, almost no sex, at least in this, the first of four proposed volumes. Violence: Yup, plenty of that, meticulously drawn and well choreographed. Epistemology: This is the strength and weakness of The Blue Lily. McKie has attempted to create a robot hero who is always contemplating his own existence - the meaning of the mechanical and organic ALL. When he does it well, this comic rises above the rest and is something truly special. When he fails to get the tongue firmly implanted in the cheek while spouting forth on religion, logic, horticulture, and the foibles of man and robot, it all starts to sound like a over-written episode of Mann and Machine.
The setting for The Blue Lily is a timeless world where '40s Chandler-esque gum shoes meet sentient robots. The main character, Rusty Spade, is a robot private dick straight out of The Big Sleep. In his world, robots, called Numbers, do all the grunt work. They are the service sector, the low class citizens. As they have become more intelligent and self-aware, tensions have grown between them and their human makers. In true Neo-Wobbly fashion, the robots have created an underground that is seeding rebellion among its metallic ranks. One of the neat things about The Blue Lily is this sub-plot (a minor theme for issue 1) which at times is reminiscent of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Blade Runner.
I found the mystery scenario engaging enough, the beautiful draftsmanship of the art compelling, and the brainy 'bot characters to be very likable. I checked in and out of this book as I read it, but was won over by the end. I look forward to books 2-4.
The Blue Lily
Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main St.
Milwaukie, OR 97222
1993, 52 pages, $3.95
Here is the TEXT POPUP for The Blue Lily:
One's first duty in life is to become as artificial as possible.
- Oscar Wilde
[Secret message on the back cover]
It's a tale of mice and metal men, a tale of mystagogues and mysophobics, a tale of myomancy and imagination...a tale of the blind, the one-eyed, and the short-sighted, stumbling through a misty world bound by infinite chains of circular sorties, stay tuned and I'll draw you a high-resolution, multibit picture display and build it line by interlaced line...in the most graphic form imaginable...in the story of...The Blue Lily.
Hey! You're a Number! Listen to some good advice from another Number who knows the score...
ONE: You're putting your foot in PEOPLE'S business...BIG business to boot...
TWO: You're a subscriber to the REB's League, which is widely regarded as the political arm of the Robot Liberation Front, a PROSCRIBED organization...
THREE: I KNOW you happen to be messing around with REAL women...and now,
FOUR: Your identity problem is surfacing again!
YOU...are on a collision course with the OWNER'S COMMITTEE for SURE!