Injection #6-10 (Story Arc Review)

Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire - the all-star team behind Marvel's recent Moon Knight revival - has recently re-joined forces at Image Comics. Together, they created an exciting and mind-bending new sci-fi comic Injection, which recently finished its second story arc.

In the 1990s, students of the University of Warwick started an interdisciplinary research collective called the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU), first ran by Sadie Plant, and later Nick Land. For the two years of its existence among its members and affiliates were some of the most influential philosophers, theorists, writers and artists. The CCRU played an important role in the development of accelerationism – an idea that either the prevailing system of capitalism or certain technosocial processes that have historically characterized it should be expanded, repurposed, or accelerated in order to generate radical social change.

The CCRU forms the loose basis for Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire’s Injection. The comic’s CCCU (Cultural Cross-Contamination Unit) was formed some time before the first issue by the British government to predict the course of human history. The members of this unit were a Scottish scientist Maria Kilbride, an Irish master hacker Brigid Roth, Secret Intelligence Strategist strategist (and superspy) Simeon Winters, a brilliant Sherlock Holmes-like detective Vivek Headland and Robin Morel, a folklore specialist and the last in a line of Cunning-folk, England’s shaman-wizards. All those brilliant and diverse minds came to the conclusion that after a short period of progress humanity will stagnate. To make human history progress, they created the Injection – an artificial superintelligence that was supposed to make things more interesting. They succeeded – too well, and the ASI turned rogue and fled into the Net. Since then, it irregularly resurges to shake things up, forcing the team (primarily Maria) to deal with it.

The comic’s first arc featured one such resurgence, which forced the now long disbanded team to work together. The ASI is learning about humans, and in the first volume it focused on folklore. In the end, Maria Kilbride ended up realizing everything is only going to get worse and returns to work in an official capacity, with an office and funds to hire consultants (i.e. her former affiliates).

The recently finished second arc focused on a member of the team with the least focus on previously – Vivek Headland. It’s very much a classic crime story, with Vivek getting a case of a stolen ghost (it actually does make sense in context) from Van Der Zee, a corporate finance giant. Along the way Vivek and his bodyguard/butler Red end up dealing with the Injection itself.

Meanwhile Robin Morel is forced to finally make a decision. Courted by Maria Kilbride on one hand, and Breaker’s Yard (Ministry of Time and Measurements, where his family was often employed as “ghost-breaker”, hence the name), and with the threat of Injection over everyone’s head, he may finally have to leave his drifter life and return to work.

The second arc finishes up the first phase of Ellis and Shalvey’s story with a masterfully told detective story. All the players are in place and, with its beginning finished, the story can go into even more exciting places than it already went to. The third arc is set to return near the end of the year, and if the previous story is anything to judge by, we may get one of the smartest stories Ellis ever wrote.

Injection is written by Warren Ellis, drawn by Declan Shalvey and colored by Jordie Bellair. It's published by Image Comics. The first volume is available right now. The second volume is set to be released on August 10.

Dominik Zine is a nerdy lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.