City of Tomorrow
by Howard Chaykin
(WildStorm, 2006)

Columbia is a sovereign nation, an independent island city created through nanotechnology where the American Dream reaches its fruition through the labors of lifelike, subservient robots. But Tucker Foyle, son of Columbia's creator, grows increasingly disaffected with his father's perfect society and flees to the U.S. mainland, serving for years in a variety of clandestine military operations before returning home to find Columbia changed.

A virus in the system has altered the robots' programming, and they're no longer content to serve. And the "perfect" society has become a front for increasing corruption, gambling, prostitution and murder, all run by robot-led gangs. Tucker vows to fix it all, but his father doesn't prove to be the ally he'd hoped; on the other hand, the pleasure robot Ash Wednesday turns out to be both an ally and romantic partner.

City of Tomorrow is a fresh dystopian setting for writer and artist Howard Chaykin's political commentary. The story is fast-paced and action-packed -- and that's its major weakness.

Chaykin has described the miniseries as "The Untouchables meets West World at Epcot," and that's a pretty good description. Unfortunately, the action unfolds so quickly that readers never get a solid sense of Chaykin's society, either in Columbia or back in the U.S. of A., where a popular president is planting WMDs on foreign soil to justify a bloody war. Chaykin should have slowed down just a bit, taken some time to explore the utopian Columbia before turning it into its own dark mirror.

With more development, City of Tomorrow would be a much more fulfilling place to visit. Chaykin's writing is strong and his art makes it a pleasant visual experience; it's a shame there are so many gaps in its construction.

by Tom Knapp
6 January 2007

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