The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vincente is truly prophetic in the same way Brave New World and 1984 are prophetic. It’s a dystopian detective story set in 2076. The cloud containing everyone’s deepest, darkest online secrets has “burst.” Everyone’s information has been revealed over a 40 day “flood.” People’s lives have been ruined. Naturally, society has a knee jerk reaction, as we humans are prone to do. The internet is banned. Privacy becomes so highly valued that people start wearing masks and costumes in public. Journalism becomes the “fourth estate,” federally regulated. Paparazzi, unlicensed and illegal journalist, become something like underground detectives. Enter our hero.
P.I., the main character, is a paparazzo who is investigating a woman’s background when he stumbles into a murder mystery and conspiracy. One people are willing to kill for. The story has a great L.A. noir vibe to it while at the same time being brilliantly futuristic. The mix of antiquated technology, like pay phones, and new tech that we wished existed, like magnetic cars, somehow creates a highly-believable world. The Private Eye is a digital comic, and Martin and Vincente do a beautiful job with panel arrangement and coloring. Others have written about how well they’ve done this, and what the digital format means to comics in general. So, I will just point you to one of their articles here. It’s good stuff.
I said at the beginning that this book is prophetic. How? We now live in a world where Facebook depresses people, because their real lives don’t look nearly as good as their friends’ online identities. It seems like every week the news runs a story of hackers stealing more account information from online services. Throughout the 2016 election cycle we’ve heard about email hacks, private servers, Bleachbit, and Ken Bone’s comments on Reddit porn. Have you listened to the Radiolab episode about Dark0de? Listen to it. The Private Eye doesn’t seem so far-fetched.