Philip K. Dick’s work is hot right now with numerous film and comics adaptations. With a remake of “Total Recall,” the adaptation of Dick’s short story “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale,” in the works, a comic book sequel to the film is a natural idea. After “Blade Runner,” “Total Recall” is in a tight race with “The Minority Report” for the most well-known Dick-adapted movie and lends itself to a continuation as this issue shows. The first issue picks up where the film ended and is logical in how it proceeds, working on a conceptual level, but falling down on execution.
The film may have ended on a happy point with Mars gaining a breathable atmosphere, freedom from Cohaagen’s rule, and Doug Quaid/Hauser getting the girl, but the comic takes those positives and immediately turns them on their head. Mars is still a battleground with the rebels fighting a chaotic government and the planet still seen as a support base for the Northern Block on Earth. It’s also clear what the direction of this book is. Vince Moore wisely jumps right into the action and keeps the book moving forward at a brisk pace.
That is, unless you count the narration and dialogue. Moore overdoes the narration, partly to provide the necessary exposition, and it slows the book down. He begins the issue by using news broadcasts to provide some exposition, and the first-person narration seems unnecessary much of the time. As well, his dialogue skills leave a lot to be desires, delivering very utilitarian dialogue that lacks any flavor or sense of naturalism.
Cezar Razek’s art has the same utilitarian feel. It gets the job done, but doesn’t add a lot of stylistic flare. He draws the characters so they resemble the actors from the films without doing exact likenesses, something that should make his art looser since he doesn’t need to use stills to get the looks right. His characters are stiff and unexpressive, and his depiction of the Mars environment is so generic and bland that it’s hard to remember that this is meant to be Mars. The coloring leaves a lot to be desired in its use of faded colors that works in backgrounds, but often overtakes entire panels.
From a plot and conceptual standpoint, “Total Recall” #1 is in a good place. It picks up where the film left off very naturally and creates new stories that flow from there. The actual dialoguing and art, though, are so workmanlike and to the point that the comic isn’t entertaining, it’s functional.