High Five! Comics

“The Doktor Will See You Now” – Doktor Sleepless Volume 1: Engines of Desire

Posted on: January 7, 2010

In a world so distinctly sci-fi as Doktor Sleepless, Warren Ellis has found one hell of a twist on this Philip K. Dick meets Chuck Palahniuk vision of the future. If you have ever mused to yourself, “We live in the future. Where is my jet pack?” then you should know Warren Ellis feels the same way, and he managed to write 16 issues of a comic dealing with that very idea.

Doktor Sleepless: Engines of Desire is one part disenchanted 20-something, one part Americana’s eternal boredom, one part mysticism, two parts science fiction, and just a smidge of Cthulhu for flavor. It’s damned interesting despite the fact that I’m not yet sure what story Ellis is trying to tell. Though the ambiguity can be annoying, I get the distinct impression that Ellis is painting our protagonist John Reinhardt as a man of questionable integrity. The beginning of our story shows Reinhardt adopting the “cartoon” persona of “Doktor Sleepless” to usher in some grand change for humanity. Throughout the book we are taken between rooting for our champion of change, and fearing him as the ultimate destroyer of mankind. Is he an antihero, or a villain? I don’t know.

While it’s tempting to write off Doktor Sleepless as Tyler Durden in goggles and a smock there are too many different ideas swimming and churning in juxtaposition to pan the work. Visually stimulating and intellectually challenging, Engines of Desire delivers that unsettled paranoia that Warren Ellis is famous for and has me anxious to read the next trade whenever Avatar Press gets it in stores. While I don’t yet know where the good “Doktor” will take us, I do know the conclusion is likely to leave me where Ellis usually does: amused, satisfied, and just a little bit afraid. Here’s to chaos! Cheers.

-JonnyC

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