As the flagship title of Impact Theory comic book publishing line, Neon Future provides a bold, ambitious vision of the future, with acclaimed recording artist and producer Steve Aoki lending his likeness and story input to the love letter to science fiction. The series is now back for its second volume, with its debut resolving the previous volume’s cliffhanger ending and upping the ante for its characters as they battle past death for a technologically-fueled second life. The series certainly hits the ground running, daring readers to jump on the ride.
Neon Future follows Clay Campbell, a young man in a world where advanced technology has been largely outlawed, tasked with tracking it down and destroying it. Killed on the job, Clay is resurrected with the very technology he sought to eradicate by the resistance’s enigmatic leader Kita, who envisions a harmonious future of humanity embracing the possibilities afforded by technology. Picking up from the previous volume, Clay finds himself captive as a nefarious hacker attempts to crack into his mind and learn secrets that will put Clay’s friends and allies directly in danger in Neon Future Vol. 2 #1.
With the start of the second volume, Impact Theory founder and CEO Tom Bilyeu takes on the full reins as the series’ scripter after previously developing the overarching story with Jim Krueger, Matt Colon and Aoki.
Given the sheer scope of the story and the in media res nature of the second volume’s opening, there is a substantial recap section to help prepare readers as they jump in, though it is still strongly recommended that new readers check out the first volume rather than starting here. There are a lot of characters and backstory at play in this issue, as Clay’s own memories and relationships are used against him and the nuances of this may be lost for those unfamiliar to the proceedings.
There is also a sense of narrative disjointedness running throughout the issue, though this is clearly deliberate given its core premise of Clay Campbell’s mind being explored and twisted. This may throw readers for a loop initially, but as Bilyeu reveals more of his storytelling hand, the pacing and tone level out as it builds to the finish. Again, this is much more coherent and easy to follow for those who have read the first volume of Neon Future, though the recap does help catch up readers that may have forgotten some of the story’s broader strokes since the conclusion of the first volume this past August.
Where Impact Theory books have always really excelled is in their art, with the second volume of Neon Future featuring pencilers Neil Edwards and Jheremy Raapack joined by inker Keith Champagne and a whole host of colorists, including David Kim, Nuo Xu, Gabe Eltaeb, Marc Monroy and Bryan Valenza. Despite the extensive art team, the visuals are largely consistent throughout and serve the flow of the story within Clay’s mind well. Neon Future has balanced gritty cyberpunk with sci-fi grandeur and, with this issue, the artwork leans more into a sort of high-concept psychedelia.
Neon Future is back without missing a beat as Clay Campbell finds himself in his most precarious position yet. With the latest volume, the stakes are raised and relationships go deeper while Tom Bilyeu takes the series’ protagonist through a magical mystery tour of his own mind. The art team continues to fire from all cylinders without the visuals ever coming off as particularly inconsistent or unwieldy, picking up where they left off and then some for a fight for humanity and its complicated relationship with technology.
The new volume of Neon Future hits the ground running in its most surreal, psychedelic issue yet, blending cyberpunk with pop grandeur.