NEW ROMANCER #5 Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Gail Williams finds that ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

Byron, resplendent (not) in cravat and heart print boxer shorts (eek!) has just got Lexy into bed. Unfortunately Lexy is almost totally out of it after the dart from Casanova in the last issue. The effects of the dart are expounded in graphic detail on the next page.

Casanova is triumphant to know he has effectively targeted Lexy and flies into a rage when it’s suggested he has a false eye because, as he says:
“She pricked my SIGHT, now… I shall prick…”
You have to turn the page to find out he’s referring to her soul.

Returning to Lexy, Byron finds and removes the syringe (and I have to ignore the fact that the way he had her laid down would have broken the needle into her back, but hey this is comic book world not gritty crime novel). Recognising that Lexy is the victim of a love potion - much more lyrically than I’m reporting it obviously, after all, his is Byron - Byron takes her out to get her some air, clearly hoping that true love’s kiss will revive her.

Meanwhile back in the desert, Mata Hari is chasing Mr Ryan (Lexy’s dad). He wants to switch off Incubators AI programme, Mata Hari has other ideas and an interesting range of persuasion techniques.

Back on the veranda, Byron points out that while Casanova sucks the life of his victims, Byron can return it, and boy does he!

So did they do it? If they did it’s off page. Sorry kids, but I presume not since on the next page a fully clothed Lexy is bemoaning the fact that she doesn’t know what possessed her, and Byron didn’t say that he did.

Reminded of her father, Lexy says she had to save him by turning off the Mata Hari AI. That if she studies the work of Ada Lovelace and her theories on numerical intelligence, she might be able to do it. That’s when Byron tells her that Angel (of Incubator Inc) is threatening his ‘daughter’ and Lexy could use her computer simulation to gain the assistance she needs.

So Lexy hacks in, and just when we think she’s getting somewhere, in bursts Angel with her firewall. Just in time to let Mata Hari Skype Lexy a threat and advise seduction as a methodology for success.

Oddly, Byron’s getting much the same advice from Angel. Now, what could possibly go wrong with that idea? Yeah, well the answer to that is why we keep reading.

This is such a sweet and sour story that I can’t get enough. Reading issues of New Romancer is like having a dish from the Chinese Take Away, half an hour after you’ve finished you want more.

Still not sure why Casanova has the Adam Ant white stripe across the nose and cheeks, but I have a horrible feeling people reading this might be too young to get the reference, so maybe I should shut up about that. Then again, Adam was one of the first New Romantics (and one of my favourites, yes I embarrassed myself dancing to Prince Charming at a few family weddings - not that I was embarrassed back then, but the memory makes me squirm now). But for those of us old enough to remember the glory days of, as Lexy says, the Phoenix that Rose from the Death of Disco, we will recognise the fashions and passions of the last page (though maybe not the torches or the group-think).

A good four out of five.

Now where did I put my army jacket and the face paint…

Gail Williams lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits and pieces are a bit wonderful. Well okay, she lives in Swansea with her husband and daughter. And the world’s most demanding cat. To find out more about Gail, check out - Dare you!

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