A couple of weeks back our friends atABRAMS Books were kind enough to send me the third volume of Frederick Peeter’s aama series. As I mentioned in that post, having never had the pleasure of reading the previous two volumes I was a little lost until I visited my local comic book shop and read their copies.
A couple of days ago there was a knock at my door and I was quite excited to see that ABRAMS were so kind as to send me the first two volumes to add to my collection, giving me the chance to really study them, let the sci-fi elements sink in. After reading the three volumes together I have to say that what Frederik Peeters has created is probably some of the best graphic novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading in quite some time.
When aama Vol.1 opens we find our main protagonist, Verloc Nim, laying prone, he has no recollection of who he is. His memories are a wreck to say the least but in these opening moments we are privy to snatches of those that do remain, his Daughter Lilja and oddly enough a pair of glasses on a table. We are then introduced to the awesome robotic ape named ‘Churchill’ who tells the confused man that they are on the planet Ona(ji) but most importantly of all he reveals he is holding onto Verloc’s diary.
Verloc and Churchill are trying to make their way back to the “Colony” and we readers are just as confused as our main protagonist which helps create a deep sense of mystery of course. That is why Peeters has included the diary, so we can get up to speed at the same time as Verloc. It’s a neat approach and lends itself well to the David Lynch meets Ray Bradbury science fiction story. Through the diary entries that Verloc reads as he and Churchill travel towards the colony we get a pretty good idea of the type of man Verloc was…and it’s not all that flattering. He’s lost his Father’s book store to a conman, and is found laying face down drunk in an alley by his Brother, Conrad. His behavior has lost him his Wife, Silika, and his Daughter Lilja.
Conrad’s timely arrival, rescue in fact of his older brother leads Verloc to join him and Churchill (Who we learn is Conrad’s bodyguard) as they head off the planet of Radiant to head to Ona(ji) to check up on something of an abandoned colony made up of scientists. Conrad’s brother works for a Biorobotics company called the Muy-Tang corporation, they are immensly powerful but helped caused a “crisis” that has shaken the Human race, those scattered amongst the stars, and it’s been five years since the company last made contact with the colony. The trio land on Ona(ji) to find a rather rude greeting from the surviving colononists, the kind of greeting where you find magnetic pulse cannons pointed at you.
Verloc’s brother smoothly talks his way out of that situation, but after being admitted into the makeshift fortress that the scientists have created Conrad reveals that he isn’t here for them but something called…aama. To add more mystery to the incidents that occured to Verloc in his past on the planet Ona(ji), a littler girl arrived at the colony two days before they did, one that looks very much like his Daughter!
The object that Conrad seeks was taken away by it’s creator, Professor Woland. The scientists after losing contact with the Muy-Tang corporation had a splintering, forming two different camps. The elderly Woland returned to the colony to lay claim to aama and it’s then we learn the reason the scientists are so jumpy. A month before Verloc, Churchill, and Conrad’s arrival all of the robots, every model big or small, disappeared only for some to return a few days later destroying a large portion of the colony’s technical equipment.
Further explanations are halted when the little girl wanders off to open the colony’s main door and is confronted by a changed and very hostile robot. Luckily for the colonists and the little girl…Churchill is on hand.
Aama Vol. 2: The Invisible Throng
In the second volume of the series, things aren’t going well for the colonists. Thanks to a romantic encounter between Verloc and Professor Myo the evening before…relations between Verloc and a Professor Pilgrimm get violent. Our main protagonist is upset with Pilgrimm because when the scientist learned of Myo’s encounter with Verloc the previous evening he physically beat her. Thankfully Churchill is there to keep things under control. I did tell you he was awesome, right?
Verloc joins Conrad’s expedition to locate the missing Professor Woland and more importantly to the company man the aama, which was taken we are told far off to the Erzulie swamps. We also finally learn what the mysterious aama is, two containers that house millions of tiny robotic forms with a hive mind whose has the ability to genetically manipulate matter and genetic code. It also possesses a powerful ability to learn, the original intent by the scientists was to release it on Ona(ji), before presumably leaving the planet and see what it could do with the genetic materials on hand.
Of course that isn’t quite how it’s worked out as demonstrated by the hostile robots that attacked the colony or the…wildlife…that the expedition comes across that is clearly a hybrid of robot and animal life.
During their journey thanks to Verloc’s talks with Professor Myo, we get more info on his daughter Lilja and his married life. It turns out that Peeters is going to slowly reveal the back story of our main protagonist bit by bit and it usually will make you completely re-evaluate what you thought you knew of Verloc and Conrad. His younger brother seems to be showing a different side of his character on this expedition and it’s rather frightening…but maybe not quite as much as what the group finds at the end of this second volume.
They find two of the scientists that went after Professor Woland, Rajeev and Gho, these two men had special imlpants that would allow them to control aama…except the hive mind creation has evolved far faster and beyond what it was designed for, it’s creating mutating autonomous life forms that are very unfriendly to human beings.
If you like tight science fiction stories, that also have a small spin of horror to them, you need to add all three volumes of aama to your collection right this minute, though be aware this isn’t for children. You can order your own copies over at ABRAMS Books.