Alex Anderson was created by a government black-ops programme as an assassin, but suffers from a unique psychosis inducing a belief he is the technologically enhanced super-spy star of a ‘70s-style TV show.
After the nature of Alex’s madness was revealed to him in the first issue, we now see him trying to adjust to ordinary life, his delusion constantly threatening to shake him from his somnambulistic shuffling and overtake his consciousness. The setup is not entirely dissimilar to someone suffering from severe mental illness and recovering from a relapse.
Of course, events soon pull him back into his imagined world of derring-do, in which he must break into the jungle fortress of a mad scientist who possesses a machine that can transform matter into fiction, stirring an extra Meta level into the already multi-layered concoction that further distorts the line between imagination and realism. The regular shifts into illusion and back again are even more disorienting than the debut issue, and again some re-reading is in order to figure out exactly what just happened, and even after doing so you can’t be sure you’re actually right. When the readers, who are afforded cues as to what is and isn’t actually happening at any given moment, have trouble differentiating between the two realities, you wonder what hope in hell Alex himself has.
The issue’s subtitle, Bokeh’s Machine, furthers the themes of visual perception, with bokeh being a term for the indistinct parts of a photograph the image doesn’t focus on, and as such it could well imply this vaguely defined device capable of causing blurs in reality in actuality refers to Alex himself. The genius of the series is that events actually are being manipulated by some nebulous conspiracy with a hidden agenda, just one that operates with far more subtlety than the pulp histrionics Alex perceives.
It may be some time before we get some answers about exactly what’s happening, but if the journey we are being gradually pulled along can maintain this level of wild entertainment, taking a while to get there might not be such a bad thing.
ALEX AUTOMATIC #2: BOKEH’S MACHINE / AUTHOR: FRASER CAMPBELL / ARTIST: JAMES CORCORAN, DAVID B COOPER / PUBLISHER: CABAL COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW