Story: Edward Park
Art: Jan-Ove (Jove) Leksell
“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying,” begins Maximum Lifespan, with a little help from the ever judicious wit of Woody Allen. Dr. Ed Park presents us a world where immortality through science is a reality, where the rich far outlive the poor and the Boston of 2098 harbours a fortified population of elitists more interested in living longer lives than full ones.
This three-part graphic novel chronicles the offspring of the sinister Symbiogenesis Corporation’s Dr. Ken Garrett, who is not beyond using his children as guinea pigs in his quest for eternal life. Symbiogenesis has developed Telorestore; a medical breakthrough that has raised the average human lifespan to around 160 years… but doesn’t take into account that most organs will wear out after only 100, and the controversial Transhumanism; the cloning of new bodies for which to transfer one’s consciousness to. Symbiogenesis also sustains the decapitated heads (or ‘decorpitated’) of billionaire industrialists, ensuring that they are kept connected to the real world even after the minor setback of death.
Rival firm Eternity, however, offers virtual reality entertainment so immersive that those unable to afford such medical procedures can at least immerse themselves in the illusion of youth. Perhaps what’s most striking about this science fiction parable is just how many ideas Park throws at us. If the story touches on similar themes elsewhere in recent pop culture (The Island, Repo Men) it’s because these themes are not only relevant but likely to impact mankind in our own lifetimes.
Dr. Park is a Southern Californian physician practicing Ob-Gyn, Laser Aesthetics and Anti-Aging, and it’s clear from the outset that extensive knowledge and research has gone into Maximum Lifespan. Park even states in his bio that he currently takes the contemporary equivalent of the aforementioned Telorestore.
Teeming with mythological and philosophical allusions, Maximum Lifespan’s ideas do occasionally take precedence over its characters. Placid protagonist Will Garrett, a pawn in his father’s twisted games since birth, is far less interesting than many of the background personalities. But an action-packed third act does bring the story to a satisfying conclusion, even if the scene in which buxom scientist Lana Pierce removes her skirt to bandage another character’s gunshot wound feels so incongruously schlocky in an otherwise intelligent story.
Digital artist Jove Leksell depicts a world of shimmering cityscapes and sterile laboratories, and his clean line art and 3D rendered backgrounds are perfectly suited to the book’s vision of future medicine. Leksell gets numerous opportunities to cut loose from the stark futuristic landscape with a series of increasingly bizarre dream sequences, and they’re an absolute visual treat.
Naturally, religion plays a part in Maximum Lifespan, and Park offers a fascinating dilemma; what would be the point in contemplating heaven when you’re unlikely to ever go there? How many people would throw aside all ethics to look thirty at sixty, or add another valuable decade to their existence? As one character ruthlessly remarks “Homo sapiens 1.0 had a good run. Isn’t it time we had an upgrade?”
For more on Maximum Lifespan, visit www.maximumlifespancomic.com for character bios and a 53pg sample. The eBook is now available from the site for just £2.99, with a full-colour hardcover edition ($29.99) to be released August 18th.