Real Lives by Peter Bagge (4 stars)

Real Lives by Peter Bagge

The author casts an eye on how we project ourselves onto the internet

Since rising to fame with Hate, his comic book chronicling the slacker generation, Peter Bagge has specialised in capturing realistic characters trapped by the frustrations of real life. Here, he casts his eye on the false personalities people project on the internet and how these can become blurred with real life, revolving around a Second Life cipher he brands Second World. And while Second Life might not be the topical talking point it was a few years back, Bagge tackles it with his own brand of insightful wit.

Despite his cartoonish art, Bagge presents fully rounded, often deeply flawed, individuals: lead protagonist Vader is riddled with perpetual yet unjustified guilt, while his girlfriend begins a tentative cyber-relationship with one of his geeky college friends. It’s a nice premise but the ending is perhaps a bit over the top, bringing events to a sharp and awkward dénouement.