Peter Bagge’s Hate, running until 1998 before Hate Annual began appearing in 2000, is one of the reason I started reading comics again. His approach to storytelling is both familiar and absurd, making the fantastic feel commonplace and the probable seem an oddity. Waiting a year (or more sometimes) for a Hate Annual is punishment, especially for the comic shop workers consistently fielding my questions about its release date. Thankfully Bagge has a new series from Dark Horse Comics called Reset.
Many words can describe Bagge’s characters: misanthropic, cynical, self centered, anxious. Reset’s Guy Krause, a washed up comedian, is all of these at some point. In the first issue he’s recruited to take part in a virtual reality study, where he revisits his past in vivid detail. Reliving embarrassing moments, Guy keeps hitting the reset button (hence the title), much to the chagrin of the study’s manager Angie. Yet something ominous is going on outside Guy’s purview and the study’s true purpose is still uncertain.
This latest issue finds Guy delving further into the program, working outside the confines (getting prostitutes or winning virtual millions in Vegas) and angering his mysterious new bosses even more. New characters are introduced, including Angie’s superiors and a digital version of Guy’s ex-wife, revealing another piece of the puzzle but still explaining little. Bagge includes enough intrigue to keep me reading while incorporating his usual brand of humor and social commentary that drags me to his work. Like Bagge’s Other Lives, Reset speaks volumes about the constant changes in digital technology in the 21st century, exploring the impact of the hyper-real and the human response. Is it possible human technologies will always be used for sex or violence in some fashion?
Drawn in Bagge’s usual cartoon style, Reset is a fun read that is visually comical in addition to the humorous writing. However, I would not recommend this for the diehard super hero readers, who may find it too contemptuous, featuring primarily vulnerable characters dealing with their own self-loathing. Yet, like life, it is these qualities continually drawing me back to Bagge’s work.