Welcome to Queer Fudanshi! Let’s Talk. In this post we’re going to be talking about Artifice.
Artifice is an American web comic by Alex Woolfson (story) and Winona Nelson (art). If you recognize Alex’s name it’s because he is the same guy who made The Young Protectors.
The official premise for Artifice goes:
“Deacon, a prototype android soldier, was ordered by his corporate masters to eliminate a team of scientists who knew too much and he has failed spectacularly. Not only did he let one of his targets live — 19-year-old human outcast, Jeff Linnell — he attacked the team sent to retrieve him. Now the Corporation demands answers and they have employed the brilliant and ruthless robopsychologist Clarice Maven to get them.
Deacon seems desperate to conceal the shocking events that took place on Da Vinci 4, but what chance does he have fighting an adversary who can control his every move?”
My Thoughts Before Reading
My biggest thought right now is that I’m amazed that the comic is so short. It’s only one chapter long (though that’s made up of 88 pages). Honestly, I know basically nothing about this story besides the title, but I LOVE The Young Protectors and as such I have a lot of faith in Woolfson. Let’s see if it’s not misplaced.
This is Artifice.*
Note: There are several translations of the story including Spanish, German, Dutch, and more. You’ll find them under the images on each page.
Where to Read (For Free):
Where to Buy (In Book Form):
The Talk (Spoilers Ahead):
This story is very dialogue heavy. In fact, it’s a lot like a theatrical/stage story because of that. There are only three characters, it’s very dialogue heavy, and it’s very introspective concerning the character’s thoughts and emotions. Because of those qualities, I couldn’t help thinking that this story would work wonders as a stage production. (Don’t worry though, there is action in this story and quite a few people die.)
The story takes part as an interview/therapy session that’s being used to access if Deacon needs to be decommissioned or not. The session then intertwines with flashbacks of the botched mission before then running into a final scene at the end. This set up was an interesting take that pulled me into the intensity of the story.
As a side note: I like the work that Woolfson did towards world (or in this case universe) building for the the story. e included the existence of a gay gene, and had that be part of Jeff’s background. “A C37 Pair in the X Chromosome,” as Jeff called it.
In addition, Woolfson combined that with the idea that Jeff lived in a regressive outer colony, which makes total sense. Again, nice world building and writing.
Deacon (and Jeff)
As for the main characters, Deacon takes on great character development, Jeff is personable and fun, and Dr. Maven is powerful and striking.
Despite the story being surrounded by dark things, mass murder, assassination missions, corrupt corporations and such, the main couple are sweet and adorable. They are both so innocent and simple together, yet also dynamic and compelling. That connection and chemistry between the two of them made the romance scene between them so much better. I’ll be honest, my fudanshi/fanboy came out. But really, it was Deacon’s blunt honesty about wanting to explore sex with Jeff that was most interesting about the love scene.
Honestly, Deacon was the most interesting out of the two. Deacon who was so confidant at the start of the story flipped to the kneeling begging character and then back to the badass at the end. All of it was a show of great writing. Alex Woolfson truly is a writer to be praised as he can make such a dramatic story and make such interesting character development.
I also have to give props to the therapist Dr. Maven who was both interesting and infuriating. She gave off this air of being a highly educated and regarded individual. She also said as much. That was great because her conversations with Deacon seemed very intellectual and gave off that dramatic/theatrical vibe. That was also bad because at times she came off as haughty.
Generally, she was such a strong and powerful character that until the ending I wouldn’t even call her a villian. She was just a good doctor.
This story is absolutely fantastic. I loved reading it from start to finish. Not only is the artwork amazing, but the story is so full of great dialogue and characterization. Honestly, if I was more established as a playwright I would call Woolfson up right now and try to strike up conversation of adapting Artifice into a play!
My rating for Artifice is 5 stars out of 5. And a QF Star! What’s Yours?