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When the aliens visited many generations ago, they permanently altered life for a small, humble tribe in Neil Brideau’s latest mini-comic series “The Plot.”
Previously, the tribe had no government. Not even basic tools. They would trade with neighbors but were otherwise very simple.
The aliens’ gift of intelligence — however it was delivered — brought art, culture, government and science to the tribe. Consequently, each person will now develop a unique mental ability that presents itself during a coming-of-age ritual called The Ascent.
In truth, The Ascent sounds terrifying. As if puberty and adulthood hit all at once. During The Ascent, the person’s mind opens up with these alien-born extra abilities, the women must choose their mates, and all their young bodies will bond with their permanent “host” — basically a tall version of themselves — which they can creepily step into and out of.
It’s a little too much to fathom. All this change, all at once, but it’s presented by the elders as a good thing. The event their whole lives are leading toward. However, unlike us in the real world, the characters in this book don’t get to work and push and crawl their way to adulthood, they just — BAM — develop as adult, all of a sudden, by the end of this ritual. Or so it seems.
Their only preparation for The Ascent comes through a series of classroom sessions in which the High Counselor gives lectures. A sad substitute for the real teacher: experience. These bland gatherings of young people recall something of a math class where the bookworm is praised and he who questions the real world usefulness of an algorithm is given detention for being disobedient.
Clearly, this society values tradition. Over everything else.
It’s no wonder then we find the book’s main characters Fib, Atchi and Eena busily embracing their youth in the last precious weeks before The Ascent. Childhood is nearly out of their hands. Time to make every second count.
The tribe with its post-alien wisdom set up an oligarchy that favors an elite few with power passing through the bloodline. Fib is among these chosen people and Eena, as a girl, could choose to marry him. Or their other friend Atchi. Or someone else. Who knows? All Eena knows is that she loves their trio’s life and friendship together as kids and doesn’t want to waste a single minute over-thinking the future. However, what she wants and what she’s forced to face are at odds by the end of this first installment of “The Plot” when the trio encounters a monster in the forbidden forest.
“The Plot #1″ is well-drawn and interesting. It promises a series of enticing complications for its core characters and their tribe. Issue #1 lays groundwork for a truly unique coming-of-age story that tests the bravery and friendship of its three main characters.
Cartoonist Brideau offers neat dip pen drawings that detail a quaint, rustic village surrounded by beautiful woods and hills and tall, lovely, readable letter-forms. The characters look very similar but are identified by unique facial markings so they’re easy enough to follow. The cover has a black layer laser-printed on with white, yellow and blue layers of color stamped onto a craft-style brown cardstock. The interior pages are black and white. The book measures 5.5″x8.5″ and is 44 pages long.
“The Plot #1″ is available through Quimby’s
You can learn more about author Neil Brideau and his various comics projects on his website.