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August 22, 2017

Things You Shouldn’t Remember #1 (Review)


Things You Shouldn’t Remember #1
Darby Pop Publishing, July 2017
Writer: LUIS ROLDÁN TORQUEMADA

“Déjà vu” is the French term for the feeling of familiarity in an unfamiliar setting. “Jamais vu” is the opposite: the feeling that the familiar is strange. “Presque vu” is the term describing the tip of the tongue moment of knowing that you know something, but not being quite able to recall it.

This new title, written by Luis Roldan Torquemada, embodies perhaps the opposite of “presque vu”: the thing that you know, that you should not be able to recall. But worse, in this title, is that there are those who police these recollections, and kill the individuals who have memories that they should not have.

Where does the memory of events that no one else remembers come from? Are these shards of reality from the multiverse which have dropped into the brains of the rememberers? Or has the history of the world been over-written, with some people being left out in the re-write? The first issue of this title deliberately does not make that clear. If it is indeed this second scenario underpins the story, then perhaps a name describing the phenomenon explored in “Things You Shouldn’t Remember” is “toujours vu” – “always seeing”.

The plot can be summarised as follows. In Denver Colorado, a suited man named Paul passively watches television. The television show is a graphic science fiction /horror movie. Around him, mounted on the walls, are animal skulls. The entire scene is fascinating. Paul is quiet and relaxed in his chair. But the surrounds apparently reflect his inner mental state, an expression of his screaming subconscious mind.

Paul is joined by John. The two men exchange casual chatter. Paul is almost monosyllabic. But it is soon clear that they are in the business of tidying up those with inexplicable and unique memories. Their method is murder. “A lot of “situations” lately,” observes John. “Yep,” replies Paul. Their first target within this issue is a very elderly lady living in Idaho Hills, who inexplicably remembers a demonstration about climate change in Paris that resulted in a viral online video. That memory is enough for her to be shot repeatedly in the chest.

Another character, Marc Royles, is an itinerant poker player. One morning, after a big win the night before, he wakes up next to an attractive woman named Monica Young. Royles is startled that she does not remember – and indeed, no one but him remembers – a band called The Canonicals, and their hit songs “Unaccountable” and “Late Night Latte”. He finds it odd that there is no mention of the band on Google. In this age of the unfailing accuracy of Google’s search engine algorithms, the writer impresses to his readers that this is quite extraordinary.

Young abruptly knocks Royles unconscious. It evolves that she is a prostitute in the employ of a man Royles has beaten in the poker game. Royles is abducted, tied up, and looking a slow death by knife. Royles, ever flippant, starts to sing “Unaccountable.” His talkative guard is entirely unfamiliar with the song. Suddenly, Royles is saved by a gun wielding man named Tommy Evans, who shouts at Royles to stop singing.

Oddly, given the overarching plot, the characters seem to have stepped out of the pages of Brian Azzarello’s noir masterpiece for Vertigo Comics, “100 Bullets”. The characters are each quirky and well- fleshed out, with traits skilfully projected to the reader through action rather than dialogue. The very first page of this comic suggests some sort of alien high technology is the trigger for the plot (along with an amusing old-fashioned paper ticket system). The first issue is succinct, tightly wound, finely calibrated. This is a disturbing, clever title.

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