When I heard about a prequel series to Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” I rolled my eyes and told myself I’d check out the first issue to see how awful it would be. Do I feel a judgmental idiot now… “Dust to Dust” has told an entertaining and interesting story within the world of Dick’s novel without redefining that world or simply repeating what Dick wrote. It fits into that world, expanding upon it, without creating an internal conflict or departure from what made the book so interesting. Roberson writes a story that provides a different take on the androids in this world, while fitting it into a familiar story.
The android-hunting android Charlie Victor finally comes face to face with his prey in a situation where he’s outnumbered and responsible for human lives that his fellow androids want to kill. Since the rogue androids have put into place a plan to kill everyone in the city with the goal of, then, moving onto another city, the manner in which Victor stops them is surprising and a definite case of lateral thinking. It’s not a solution that seems immediately obvious until it happens. As is the manner in which Victor gains the upper hand: by giving the ‘leader’ (as there are no leaders in the group) of the androids feelings through an EMP to the skull.
The series has revolved around emotions and, through Malcolm Reed, we’ve seen how powerful and painful they can be. That Victor uses emotions as a weapon is a natural extension of ideas raised already in the story. If emotions set humans apart from androids and emotions make humans weak, what better weapon to use against androids?
Robert Adler has been a revelation in this series, delivering bold and energetic art with scratchy lines and a strong control. Sometimes, artists who use a rougher, sketchier style seem to do so with abandon, just tossing lines on the page, hoping they add up to something, but Adler keeps his lines restrained to a degree. They have a loose quality and serve the story and aesthetics all at the same time.
If he has a weakness, it’s his inability to depict visual emotions well. He doesn’t present the emotive qualities of faces with any nuance or subtlety, it’s all over-the-top. While that makes sense for Reed or the android given emotions as each are overwhelmed by emotion, for the other characters, it comes off as a bit abrasive.
Fans of Dick’s novel should definitely track down “Dust to Dust,” a story that fits into that world perfectly and delivers a strong, surprising conclusion with this issue. Personally, I’d like to see Roberson return to the surviving characters, especially Reed, that’s how much I liked this series.