Comical Musings

Tag: backlash

Review: Ruby’s World

by on Feb.22, 2010, under Review

Most everyone’s had that moment of thinking wistfully, “If only I weren’t fat/short/paralyzed/skinny/obsessed with my inadequacies/slow-witted/big-nosed/weak/color-blind/etc., life would be so much better. I wish I could just rebuild my body/mind to be the way I want it to be, and then the world would work!” This seems to be the guiding thought behind transhumanism, a philosophy that finds its mascot in the webcomic Dresden Codak. We can use technology to build our species into something better, transhumanism says—can and should.

On the other side of the coin are the usual voices of caution, the ones that say, “But what happens if we get carried away? What if we go down the wrong path and do something horrible to ourselves?” It’s the voice of many a science-fiction horror movie, and it’s the one you can find coming from Ruby’s World, by Neil Kapit. While the title is a bit reminiscent of a certain animated Howie Mandel vehicle, the subject matter is a good deal grittier than anything I watched on Fox Kids. It follows the life and misadventures of Ruby Harrison, a biotech intern turned mutant warrior in southern California.

I will admit that Ruby’s World is a difficult comic to read. The art style is a bit choppy on anatomy, and while some of the more technical details can be impressive, the pen and markers treatment doesn’t translate well to a digital format. As a result, NSFW scenes don’t really feel dirty. Just . . . discomfiting.*

Get past the art style, however, and you find a story about an invulnerable giantess, a lonesome empath, a formerly-autistic robot boy, and a deadpan-snarker normal who have to flee from the spectacularly evil corporation that made three of them the way they are.** The characterization is tremendously unsubtle, although Ruby’s father gets a special mention for a certain amount of displayed character growth.

The main theme of Ruby’s World seems to be that human frailty is exactly the thing that makes us so fascinating, and that trying to rid ourselves of our weaknesses before we understand them entirely is a tragic mistake. It’s a sympathetic message, and one that I tend to agree with, but the packaging could use some work.

Comic Rating: Two parental deaths by backstory and counting.

* The fact that the referenced page is a love scene between a radioactive giantess and a robot that’s supposed to look like a Japanese teenager serves only to further that feeling.

** I’ve already expressed my distaste for “sinister faceless power bloc hates the poor defenseless people in their way” plots, so it really doesn’t bear repeating.

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