Terminal CityTerminal City is a complex story, transcending simple descriptions based on genre. Although set in the future, the eponymous city is a 1930s style utopia turned sour. Instead of being the hub of life its architects originally planned, the city has become the epicentre of lost dreams and broken spirits.
Writer Dean Motter takes many of the themes you might expect of early 20th century pulp and science fiction, and brings them into his alternative modern era. Gangsters rule the streets against an ineffective police force, monorails and airships provide transport, barely functioning robots are man's simple servants and video screens provide entertainment and communication (though it's still in black and white).
To a certain extent the characters conform to clichéd stereotypes to accurately portray this referential world. This is artistically countered by providing many of them with rich background histories to eliminate any risk of them becoming two-dimensional. Even the city itself has a back plot of its own.
While the writing intertwines the plot around the characters, the art is clear and crisp. Lark has brought Terminal City alive with solid architecture that lurks innocently in the background without attracting particular attention to itself. However, shift your attention away from the equally well fleshed out characters for a moment and take a look - it's all there, you just haven't really been looking. Every now and then a large panel will break out and show us Terminal City's skyline though, so don't get too upset if you get absorbed in everything else that's going on.
With its sophisticated plot, this is the kind of book that could bring the literate novel reader into comics. The only bitter pill is the number of loose ends left dangling. Again, we won't spoil it by discussing which plot lines go unresolved but don't come here if you like your books to be one tidy package.