Writer: Mark CareyArt: JockPublisher: Titan BooksPrice: £8.99
The magic of a fevered imagination is that you find a combination of possibilities and adventures that weave in and out of reality, almost in step with the world you know but just given an extra twist. Mike Carey has established himself as one of those modern comic-book myth makers, examining the human condition from some fantastical perspectives, as witnessed in Hellblazer, Lucifer and even X-men. Under Vertigo’s guidance, he has been able to follow distinctly different tales and Faker is his latest surreal mystery, which takes a group of students on a personal journey into the unknown, and a confrontation with their own mortality.
In essence, four college kids share one drunken night together. All harbour dark secrets and all are recklessly willing to party hard. They’re wired up and ready to try a new drug, Angel’s Dust, which has them hallucinating and puking their guts up When they wake in the morning, they have little recollection of what happened except for Nick Philo. He retains his memory but otherwise he’s become a non-person. He has ceased to exist in the minds of his tutors, girlfriends and employers. Only his close circle of friends know who he is. As he starts melting away, the quartet grow increasingly concerned of the drug’s ill-effects and having been forced to flee the authorities, they embark on a desperate search to find those who have the answers before they reach a final, irreparable end.
Carey has a group of unattractive slackers and hustlers: Jessie has sex with married men in order to blackmail them into paying for her course fees, whilst Marky is just a sexual predator, and Sack troubled by his own inner insecurities. The environment is set in a kind of everyman college campus, and there are contaminated elements of danger, conspiracy and even surrealism blended into the narrative. It makes their plight even more chilling. In addition the story becomes an exploration of memory and how disenfranchising its loss can be. Even with no superheroes or demons in sight, it has a disorientating atmosphere. Less psychedelic than psychological in its impact.
The disjointed narrative is suitably complemented by Jock’s edgy, angular artwork, previously seen in The Losers and Green Arrow: Year One, evoking a more fractured world of hidden menace. The colour scheme is less lurid and more earthy in tone, adding to a sense of murky nightmare. It matches Carey’s fractured style of narrative, forming a team of subtle nightmare-makers, provocatively exploring the barriers of disillusion constructed around ourselves as we escape unhappiness in whatever form we can. Faker is not just a person, it’s a state of being and a disorientating, good read.