Advance Review: `Fictionauts’ #3 Goes Full Matrix

by Tom Smithyman


If you geeked out on the philosophical questions of reality posed by The Matrix, you’ll love this series. But if you were confused and disappointed by how the Matrix panned out, you may want to rethink your reading choices with this book.


What is reality, and what is our role in it? How important to that reality are the made-up stories we tell each other?

Try answering those questions in a three-part comic book series. Forget the bad guys, the real challenge facing the team in Fictionauts is a storytelling issue. And if that “what is reality” plotline sounds vaguely familiar, it’s probably because the story reads a lot like the Matrix.

Much like the Keanu Reeves film series, Fictionauts started strong with an intriguing premise, but ultimately stumbled a bit in living up to the lofty expectations it set for itself. The series began with a philosophical debate about the nature of fiction and its importance in our everyday lives. It morphed into a study of reality itself. Both are great concepts, particularly for a comic book. But three issues don’t really give enough real estate to fully discuss such broad and deep issues.

Fortunately, the reader can still rely upon a decent story. Writer Mauro Mantella and artist Leandro Rizzo created some memorable – if familiar – characters. Delan Valley, a would-be Flash Gordon, his voluptuous girlfriend Zool Stone, and villain Calculus Poisson entertain as they spout out 1930’s and 40’s-era technobabble. (“The ballistic microids are dead!” And there’s the Enigmaverse, Imagineria and Fantascience.) Rizzo’s memorable artwork adds a comic strip vibe to the issue, though it does leave the feeling that the depictions are a bit rough and incomplete for a full-blown comic.

Still, putting aside the rushed nature of the full story, Mantella and Rizzo tell an interesting tale. Fans of classic science fiction will enjoy the story and overlook its flaws as they host their own debates about what is real and whether that ultimately even matters.

Fictionauts #3 will be available for purchase on April 13, 2022.

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