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Hotwire: Deep Cut #2 “is among the very best indie comics out there”

Review by Alex Evans

The Story: Alice has it out with her blue light ex while the hunted ghost soldier finds an unlikely comrade.

What’s Good: After Requiem for the Dead, Hotwire was quite easily Radical’s best property. Deep Cut has only cemented that position, despite Radical’s larger roster of solid titles.

Let’s start with the artwork. Deep Cut #2, like every other issue of Hotwire, goes beyond Radical’s trademark digitally painted style. Quite simply, Hotwire is perhaps the best looking comic book coming out today. On a technical level, this is outstanding, gorgeous stuff that defies description. It’s incredibly realistic, vivid, and mind-blowingly detailed. On a design level, Steve Pugh’s work is equally impressive; his blue lights are a perfect mix of horror and hard sci-fi, while Hotwire’s world in general is cyberpunk cool.

Pugh’s characters are similarly strong. Alice Hotwire herself is more distinctive than ever this month in her facial expressions and body language, making her even more attractive than ever. I also greatly enjoyed Pugh’s depiction of the blue lights’ perspective, which took on a dreamy, pastoral quality that greatly contrasted with the cold, polished futuristic world of reality.

Pugh’s script is fantastic as well. In many ways, I think his writing of the series is stronger in Deep Cut than Requiem. It’s clear that this arc is all about characterization. This issue really let me feel like I was getting to know Alice, from her quirks to her demons, and it made her attractive, cool, vulnerable, and fully three dimensional as a character. Pugh accomplishes this again through the use of Alice’s blue light ex-boyfriend. Her struggle with him is a clear, but elegant and downright exciting, metaphor for her struggles with her own past. At the conclusion of the fight, you end up feeling satisfied; Hotwire defeated a ghost, but also made a step forward in her life and as a character.

Given this, Alice is now fully established as an awesome lead character that could very well become Radical’s Hellboy. She’s just incredibly likable. Pugh’s writing of the dialogue only enhances this. Alice’s voice is an incredibly unique one; she’s hilarious and snarky, but also socially awkward and abrasive. Yet despite this, she absolutely adorable. She’s basically the endlessly grumpy person that you can’t help wanting to hug.

Pugh’s writing doesn’t just extend to Hotwire, however. I also greatly appreciated his depicting events from the blue lights’ perspective, a surprising new arena for him. It makes the soldier and his new comrade instantly relatable, to the point where we actually start rooting for them. The companionship, fear, desperation, and their trek through a forest actually reminded me a lot of The Road, if the characters were ghosts. Pugh really does a great job establishing a constant tension and the anxiety of being “hunted,” that it’s impossible not to feel bad for them and wish them the best. It’s a sharp turn from the last arc, and much more nuanced and emotionally charged.

What’s Not So Good: Not a lot. In some ways, with only three issues to work with and so much space dedicated to character work, it’s undeniable that this arc’s actual plot is simpler, or at least more straightforward, than Requiem for the Dead. You’re not getting city-wide riots or massive plots or terrorist attacks. It’s a much smaller, more personal, story, and that might surprise some given the insanity that we’ve gotten in the past. That said, I think the strengths definitely outweigh the weaknesses.

Conclusion: Among the very best indie comics out there. Read it.

Grade: A-

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Hotwire_DC_2_Cover.jpg

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