Elections decided by Twitter! Companies monetizing your sadness! The future seems… sadly believable.

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Dystopian futures present a lot of narrative opportunity. Recently we’ve seen films like X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and MAD MAX: FURY ROAD do really well at the box office because there’s something fundamentally compelling about our world not looking like our world. Those films—and most comic book stories—tend to craft those worlds after one specific event: a natural disaster, a war, an outbreak, so on. Those futures and our futures are separated so much that we can find familiarity in the world but not so much that it’s actually upsetting.

That’s where PREZ and NEGATIVE SPACE come in.

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The closest parallel for these two would be something like BLACK MIRROR or even THE TWILIGHT ZONE, shows that created worlds that were just like ours only slightly… off. The worlds created in PREZ and NEGATIVE SPACE look so much like our current one, but with certain features of our daily lives extrapolated to their absurd ends. What was a war or global cataclysm in DAYS OF FUTURE PAST or MAD MAX is the inevitable fundamental acceptance of Twitter’s importance in PREZ, or the willingness to literally capitalize on human suffering in NEGATIVE SPACE.

READ: Like your dystopian literature? Check out our review of WE STAND ON GUARD #1!

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The art direction for both titles suits the tone of their respective stories perfectly. The whimsical, circus-like art of PREZ befits a world in which a girl whose video goes viral on the Internet can become a Presidential candidate, and the oversaturated, heavily textured art of NEGATIVE SPACE befits a world in which a corporation exists to manipulate your world as they see fit—specifically in Guy’s (the protagonist) case, making the world that much more miserable.

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That’s where these stories begin: two people live in a world that puts them down so often they don’t know what up is anymore, before, just when it couldn’t get any worse, they come face to face with an opportunity to finally look up. What’s interesting and unintentionally complementary is that in the chaotic world of PREZ, Beth’s world looks up due to more powerful people pulling strings, and in the manipulated world of NEGATIVE SPACE, Guy’s world turns upside down through sheer chance.

Both titles have bold first issues (it should be noted here that PREZ is something of a reboot of a short series from the 70s, but beyond the general plot, the similarities basically end there and, as such, any reference to that first series here is irrelevant). Are PREZ #1 and NEGATIVE SPACE #1 perfect? Of course not, but they do what first issues should do: they present a clear picture of their respective worlds, introduce you to a protagonist about whom you care, then introduce an opportunity for that protagonist to overcome their difficulties. PREZ does it with humor and spirt while NEGATIVE SPACE does it with gut-wrenching pathos (not to deny PREZ’s tragedy or NEGATIVE SPACE’s comedy).

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Dark Horse Comics is no stranger to superhero alternatives, which makes PREZ being a DC publication all the more surprising. No disrespect to DC, but their bolder stuff is usually farmed out to Vertigo (not that they wander too far: PREZ does take place in a world where there is at LEAST a Wayne Foundation).

CLICK: Wanna stray from the mainstream a bit more? Check out all our Valiant Comics coverage!

In a marketplace that can be overrun with superhero fare (though I’m not complaining), PREZ and NEGATIVE SPACE present two smart, compelling, well-executed opportunities for something immediately different and challenging, but familiar enough to grab you and hold on.

Do yourself a favor and check them both out. PREZ #4 and NEGATIVE SPACE #2 are available now!

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