Jason Cobley dabbles in an oddly intriguing concept for Amnesia Agents. This brief, near-50 page read exploits our feelings of amnesia in a spy-fi scenario, but routinely stumbles over itself with the excitement of its own story. We follow the breathless adventures of Amnesia Agents Theseus Brown and Persephone Mills as they’re dispatched to investigate a fracture between our real world and Echo, the place where all forgotten memories are stored. A cryptic premise is given a raucous execution by the shortness of the comic itself.
Amnesia Agents bears a rattling pace that doesn’t quite match its haunting world. It reads like an episode of The X-Files on speed. Even if the comic scuppers its ideas with a little too much passion, it clearly has that passion to make it an absorbing read. As Theseus and Persephone uncover the mystery behind the break in the gaps between the two worlds, both worlds themselves reveal the effects of living in Amnesia Agents with aplomb. There’s a definite, high level charm in how keen Cobley and artist James Gray are in thrusting you into this story of mystery and action.
Oddly enough, Gray’s artwork compliments Cobley’s blitzkrieg story-telling well. A monochrome palette and a lack of caricatured depictions in the characters ensures the art meets the immediacy of the story. Gray’s commanding use of shadow is a perfect match for the more surreal qualities Amnesia Agents displays when dabbling between two worlds. That duo of worlds themselves, and their fracture, are reflected in how the comic’s panels casually but cautiously blend together, often one on top of the other.
Theseus and Persephone don’t amount to a great deal as characters. There’s little conflict in them, and as the story rattles along, it becomes clear they’re little more than guiding the reader along. Ironically, despite their distinguished roles as maintaining the stability of both the real word and Echo, narratively, they’re passive outsiders. There’s some drama in Theseus’ own lack of memory when he starts working alongside Persephone in the comic’s early stages, but it feels undernourished. More tragic characters emerge from the shadows, greatly affected by the breakage in the link between the worlds, which only serves to highlight the two agents’ limpness as hooky lead characters.
Amnesia Agents’ faults don’t outweigh its positives, but the two are neck-and-neck, rendering the comic in limbo when it comes to its own quality. There’s a delightfully immersive world at play here, but Amnesia Agents just can’t quite get its message across. It doesn’t have the temperament for it.
AMNESIA AGENTS / AUTHOR: JASON COBLEY / ILLUSTRATOR: JAMES GREY / PUBLISHER: JASON COBLEY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW