Geeks a Gogo recently picked up issues 1-3 of Alter-Life, a comic book series by writer Caleb Thusat. The story is an engaging one, starting as what seems like a supernatural thriller and something of a mystery, taking a sci-fi twist along the way. The artwork by Katrina Kuntsmann is deceptively simple and unassuming, giving the story the look of something simple and cheery--perhaps like a children's book. The story soon takes some dark turns as the protagonist, Jake, attempts to take his own life after a series of failures and the loss of his family leave him with nothing. He soon discovers something dark and mysterious is at work when he wakes up alive again soon after the attempt. He dies again and again, each time coming back to a life that is somewhat different. Though, someone is trying to contact him with a warning. The story's slow reveals and twists made me feel as if the story would work very well as a Christopher Nolan film, and as of issue three, it's worthy of being put into a movie of that caliber.
Issue one introduces Jake, our protagonist. His tragic past is hinted at before he is hit by a train saving the life of a child. Though, soon after, he's transported back to the scene of his death--alive again as if nothing had happened. This time, events are a bit different--he rides the train and dies stopping a robbery. Each time he comes back to life, things are not as he remembered them. Is he supposed to be at work today? His coworker called him and told him to come in, but his boss fired him weeks ago, right?
Things are confusing, and reality is even more muddled by Jake's dreams. He dreams of a lone tree standing in a field. The tree has people hanging from its branches, which taper off into shadowy tendrils, that seem to grow down the throats of the people in this tree. Jake grows a set of black tentacles from his mouth, which reach up to the tree's branches as he joins the people hanging from the tree. The style of the artwork in its simplicity really plays well with the story, giving disturbing scenes like this one more impact.
Issue two brings some new clues as things get weirder. Jake is being followed by a faceless man in a suit, who turns up at his apartment claiming to offer answers. An encounter with the man reveals that the man is actually his brother Bobby. Can it be for real? Or he at least looks like Bobby, when he hands Jake a business card with a phone number written in binary. A call to Bobby offers some frantic answers about a project that Bobby had worked on--a computer simulation called "Alter-Life". It was supposed to be an escape from reality that was meant to help people escape the pain of their lives. Bobby built it after the death of their father, and their mother's subsequent descent into madness.
But something has gone wrong. So, we're led to believe that Jake is inside a program, or a virtual reality system of some sort, but Bobby is warning of a problem. The consciousness not being assimilated into the code. Whatever it may mean, we're left to find out in issue 4. So, check it out here on Kickstarter.