For months now, the industry has been buzzing about the epic graphic novel Anomaly. Epic? It's enormous. 368 pages enormous, not to mention how massively oversized it is (opened up, it has more than a 32-inch wingspan; not the kind of book that's easy to read on a crowded subway).
What Anomaly lacks in convenience it makes up for in storytelling and art. Co-creator Brian Haberlin has his hands in both pieces, writing the story along with cocreator Skip Brittenham and supplying art along with Beirrod Van Dyke. All told, it was a project that took the creative team years to assemble...and, interestingly enough, the creative work is still going on, even after publication. This being a fully realized 21st-century graphic novel, Anomaly is not just a book, but an interactive experience (although it reads just fine as a standalone book). Readers are invited to enhance their experiences with Ultimate Augmented Reality, an app that can be downloaded for free. Pages in the book that are "live" can then be scanned by the reader's mobile device, which makes objects on the page not only 3D, but also interactive...meaning readers can play along and take on some pretty cool monsters and machines on the pages.
What makes Anomaly more fun than all of this suggests, however, is that it's not just all bells and whistles (the bells and whistles are very cool, though). The sci-fi story focuses on a dying world overrun with corporate greed, as all nations and corporations have been merged into one behemoth known as The Conglomerate. Humans vie for scarce resources.
Our protagonist, Jon, is a former Enforcer for The Conglomerate and has now been disgraced. To redeem himself, he undertakes a seemingly simple mission of safeguarding a Conglomerate executive's daughter as they sail off to make first contact with a world that may be inhabitable (and may offer more resources to plume). This being a sci-fi novel, you can imagine that things go wrong. When they arrive on the planet, the group is faced with remarkable challenges from the planet's inhabitants and must battle for survival.
While the story is not groundbreaking, it is solid and entertaining. The art is exactly as you'd expect: static in that computer-generated way, but with very cool depth and color. But when it comes alive through the app, it's a nice experience.
Reviewed by John Hogan