Issue: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? #11
Release Date: June 16, 2010
Writer: Philip K. Dick
Artist: Tony Parker
Cover A: Tony Parker
Cover B: Brett Weldele
Letterer: Richard Starkings of COMICRAFT
Backmatter: Jonathan Lethem
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
This issue contains more nail-biting tension. When I stop to think about it, this is the kind of scene that Quentin Tarantino would have a field day with. There’s a thought: a Tarantino adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story. Gives me chills.
But forget that for now. Picking up from last issue, when Deckard had been transported to a parallel police station run by Androids: Deckard continues his conversation with Garland, who admits he is an Android. Garland explains that it’s a homeostatic enterprise. A closed loop, cut off from the rest of San Francisco. The real question is: what will Resch do when he finds out he’s an Android too? At least, that is the question Garland has. He is sure Resch is an Android, but he’s not sure if Resch knows that.
Of course, I am now reading this graphic adaptation after having read the novel. This was a gripping scene when I read it in the novel, because I didn’t know how it would turn out. Is Resch an Android? Is there really an entire fake police department designed to keep the Androids isolated, and operating parallel to the real police? Since I now know the answers to those questions, the uncertainty of the outcome no longer the primary point of tension like it was when I read the novel.
However, as a sign of PKD’s master storytelling craftsmanship, the tension of the scene does not depend solely on the thrill of not knowing what will happen next. There is also the exploration of Deckard’s character as he awaits what might be his certain death. There is also the tension between two men who know that, when Resch gets back, at least one of them — possibly all of them — will die, and yet they are both having a casual conversation.
There is also the underlying theme of the story overall that gets explored in this scene. Garland is an Android, and yet he has no desire to help out his fellow Androids. If Resch is an Android as Garland believes (but doesn’t know it), then as a fellow Android, Garland should want to help soften the shock of finding out he is not human. But, as Garland puts it:
“I think you’re right. We lack a specific talent you humans possess. I believe it’s called empathy.” So all this goes together to make it a good issue even if you’ve already read the novel and you know what’s going to happen next.
This is the spoiler part, so if you don’t want to know what happens next, stop now and come back after you have satisfied your curiosity.
For those who are ready for a spoiler: Garland pulls a gun on Resch as soon as he walks back into the office. Resch, on the other hand, is a professional Android killer, and pulls his gun and gets the jump on Garland. That’s it for Garland. One minute he’s contemplating the nature of Android humanity given that they lack human empathy, and the next minute he’s dead. Resch isn’t that philosophical, but he is a bit weirded out that he has been working for Androids while “retiring” Androids the whole time.
Nevertheless, he and Deckard have bigger problems. Namely, how to get out of the fake police station without all the other Androids realizing something is up. They pretend that Resch is taking Deckard as his prisoner, which works, but now they have to “retire” Luba Luft (the woman who turned in Deckard in the previous issue) before someone warns her that Deckard is free. Then there is the question of whether Resch is human or Android, and — if Android — what he’ll do when he finds out.
But that has to wait until the next installment. The backmatter is a continuation of the essay by Jonathan Lethem from last issue. It’s one of his short stories that shows a powerful influence by PKD, playing on PKD’s pet theme: out-of-control consumerism. It also involves nanotechnology, which always makes me think of Star Trek: The Next Generation, so it got extra points for that too.
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars