Cutting Edge: The Siren’s Song is an absolutely wonderful piece of nonsense of a comic from writer Francesco Dimitri and artist Mario Alberti. And by that I mean this is one of those totally escapist things, high concept, suspend your disbelief premise, all of which makes it one of those reads you’ll enjoy so much even whilst a little bit of your brain is busy pointing out just how silly it all is – and yes, I had an absolute blast reading this one.
We’ve already shown you a preview of this Titan Comics publication but in terms of a review, all you really need is what I’ve written so far plus the Titan Comics blurb for the series…
“Tomb Raider meets The Hunger Games in a brand new series by renowned fantasy author and award-winning Italian artist. Brought together by a clandestine corporation, the world’s greatest minds are set a challenge of epic proportions: the dodecathlon. Unlikely alliances are made in order to fulfill the quest, and uncover the mysterious truth behind it all. But as the conspiracy is unveiled, how many will survive…?”
Okay then, after reading that I imagine you might have the same idea about it as I did. Referencing Tomb Raider and The Hunger Games in the first line? Yes, it’s exactly what you think it will be, the comics equivalent of a really satisfying blockbuster popcorn movie, water cooler TV, or the latest prose from your favourite author who publishes those wonderful potboilers, literary comfort food.
I read it and I absolutely enjoyed every ridiculously overblown moment of it, all the absurdity, all the by the numbers build-up, all the cliches… all of it was just great. It’s gloriously escapist nonsense that looks as good as it reads.
There you go, that’s the set-up delivered – the big (and presumably nefarious) Leviathan Corporation send out invitations to the greatest everythings in the world to do a quest thingy – so we get a group including the greatest scientific minds, a brilliant photographer, world’s most successful model, the greatest social psychologist, the biggest celebrity in the world, a master of seduction… well, you get the idea.
All these different people, all around the world, all getting the same message… all asked one question, “Are you at the Cutting Edge?”
And yes, when you see them all assembled in the lavish function room, these best that the world has to offer, not one of them has anything less than model good looks, unless it’s the one slightly unusual looking bloke, but even he’s got that nerd cool vibe going on, if Jarvis Cocker were the world’s greatest painter, that sort of thing.
But then again, in the realms of Hollywood blockbuster that we’ve ventured into, via sequential art, you’d expect nothing less than physical perfection with the occasional Bogart-ish unusual yet alluring exception.
And of course, in that beauty it does help that artist Mario Alberti does draw some extremely good looking people. In terms of style, this is what you’d describe as a modern Euro book, the same sort of glamourous adventures, lavish surroundings stylings of Phillipe Franq on one of my Euro favourites, Largo Winch.
Again, I’ll remind you that no matter how contrived or ridiculous this all feels at this point, it’s still put together in such a way to make it so bloody readable and enjoyable.
Anyhow, big cast, lots of introductions, very little in the way of characterisation apart from being the best there is at what they do, the beautiful, brilliant people all in one room. And they’re all here because the Leviathan Corp has a thing to pitch to them, this cutting edge of the human race. And that thing is the Dodecathlon – 12 ordeals, a modern-day version of the labours of Hercules. Everyone in the room accepts. Pride, vanity, the prestige, the mystery, the huge financial reward, they’ve all got their reasons. But frankly, like so much else here, the deep reasons why are mere passing mentions.
No, this is all about moving it on, the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. Pace is everything. And it works, I was turning those pages and smiling as I did so.
Next thing, once they’ve all accepted, is to split them up and give them their tasks… so we head off with one of the groups to, bizarrely enough, track down an old jazz muso who disappeared 15 years back, in search of the perfect piece… presumably “the Siren’s Song” of the title.
Basically, stuff happens, they track him down, there’s bad people around, the brilliant and the beautiful find enough time to argue, over-reach, make a terrible mistake with the expected terrible consequences – after all, with all these characters around it’s no surprise this high stakes game they’re playing takes a deadly toll.
And with that, we’re left with the mystery of the Siren’s Song and waiting for the second part of what I believe is four volumes, first published in Europe by Delacourt.
All in all, this one is just one of those books that you’ll enjoy for its absolute absurdist escapism, something as wonderfully readable as it is ridiculously contrived.
Structurally, artistically, tonally, it’s so similar to a lot of the modern Euro books that we’re increasingly getting access to and has that same sense of fast-paced yet chatty thriller – again, it shares that sort of thing with Largo Winch.
In the end, the final verdict on Cutting Edge is a simple one – it might be overblown nonsense, but it’s thoroughly entertaining overblown nonsense that had me turning the pages and enjoying what I read. If you’re looking for a fun, quick, thrilling sort of read, drawn with style, then Cutting Edge is one to check out – just don’t go into it expecting more than a fun read and you’ll do just fine.
Cutting Edge: The Siren’s Song – written by Francesco Dimitri, art by Mario Alberti, published by Titan Comics. And out now.