Inside the Loop is a gritty dystopian sci-fi with medical undertones written by Cindy Tobisman and illustrated by Lynne Yoshii.
Within the first two pages, we are introduced to a grim sci-fi world that gives strong impressions of the movie The Island and the occupation of New Caprica in Battlestar Galactica (the lead, Tora, even gives this reader a heavy impression of Starbuck, and, word to the wise, I adore Starbuck). A warning, though, there is also a graphic scene early on. The art style and easy movement and flow of panels scream animatic over comics, lending to the overarching cinematic feel. I was immediately drawn in and desperate to know more about this larger-than-life story.
Tora is a survivor of an unnamed disease that earns her a wide berth and a grieving family. She’s also a take-charge detective whose world has fallen to pieces. When it is insinuated she may still be infected, she strikes out on her own to find a means to end the disease. But something more insidious looms between those inside the Loop and those stuck outside it.
Inside the Loop is fascinating, giving gleaming nuggets of knowledge while keeping a large mystery looming overhead. We learn much about the world and its inhabitants within a short first issue while being kept in the dark about the real concerns. The setting is engaging and gives a unique atmosphere, like District 9 or even Blade Runner at points (with adult companions soliciting interesting uses for the robotic parts of their otherwise human bodies). This is sure to stand out to readers.
The writing is engaging, rarely dull, and paced well. We learn about Tora’s family life, and even gain a glimpse into her father’s past, while wanting more. We are given the impression the world teeters on a precipice of both a large discovery and an uprising without explicitly being told. In fact, most of what we learn is heavily implied rather than explicitly stated.
The only real drawback is that any other characters are quickly forgotten—the understanding co-worker, a family friend, even Tora’s father, and a separate key character. This is not inherently bad, as it focuses in on keeping us interested in Tora and her journey, but it is frustrating that those helping her along the way seem to be more for plot devices rather than their own narrative, making them fall a bit flat on the page. There are two POC in the frontground in this issue, both playing semi-key roles, but both are semi-stereotypical roles with little substance and this is frustrating. The other three or four counted are of no consequence and/or dead.
Hopefully, we will see more of these key characters outside their stereotyped roles and learn more about them outside of Tora’s needs. Flat characters, even in the background, leave readers wanting more. But however forgettable they may be, the story is still a gripping one, and it takes you by the collar and screams, “RUN!”
An exciting story so far, with cinematic art to boot, Inside the Loop is something I eagerly look forward to see more of.
Ishki is a full-time Two-Spirit Chahta parent, writer, game developer, and subversive decolonizing home activist. Part-time painter & renaissance crafter, Ishki can be found on Twitter (@jamlamlaser) or WordPress (jammylam.wordpress.com)