It’s the 26th century, and humans have colonized Mars with the help of artificial intelligence. Aspiring teenage inventor Clementine Chang needs a fresh start, so she books a one-way ticket to the Red Planet, where she has scored her dream job working in a robotics repair shop for an AI pioneer. There, she meets the infamous Dr. Marcella Lin, and her assistant, Kye, a humanoid custom-built AI with whom Clem is immediately fascinated.
When Kye begins glitching and seeing a strange child within his hard drive, he seeks out Clem’s help. As their relationship grows, the line between AI and human begins to blur for Clem, who resolves to help Kye break free, even if it means risking everything she came to Mars for.
The Infinity Particle (Quill Tree, $18.99, 9780062955760) is a stunning standalone graphic novel that offers a tender and timely look at AI. Questions of autonomy and generational trauma ground readers in the humanity of this sci-fi tale, while small details such as chapter headings written in binary code build a sense of immersion in this futuristic world. The one complaint readers may have is wanting more—more background about the AI system, more time with Clem and Kye.
Wendy Xu (Tidesong) uses a two-color palette to great effect. Panels are largely shaded with blue, while sparingly used reds can instantly make scenes romantic or dramatic. Dynamic gutter backgrounds add to the visual appeal and mood. Xu plays with unique panel shapes; for example, scenes of Kye glitching are given a dreamlike quality with wavy outlines. Occasional chibi figures and exaggerations like giant sweat drops add lightheartedness and are sure to appeal to manga readers.
A hopeful vision of life alongside technology is a welcome deviation from the trope of antagonistic AI. The Infinity Particle is perfect for fans of speculative works with well-developed characters such as Molly Knox Ostertag’s The Girl from the Sea and Danie Stirling’s Crumbs.