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SYFY WIRE AfterShock Comics

An A.I. relationship goes wrong in AfterShock's new horror series, Lonely Receiver

By Jeff Spry
Lonely Hero

Anyone who's ever been in a toxic relationship that quickly goes south will immediately relate to a chilling new miniseries from AfterShock Comics that revolves around a lonely video producer whose AI partner suddenly vanishes without a trace and ignites a downward psychological spiral she may never recover from.

Blending equal parts of Adrian Lyne's Fatal Attraction and Spike Jonze's Her, Lonely Receiver is written by Zac Thompson (Undone By Blood, Her Infernal Descent) and injected with unsettling art and colors courtesy of Jen Hickman (Moth & Whisper, Test).

This timely terror tale is best described as a digital-age horror breakup story told in five parts, with a professional woman of the near future named Catrin Vander falling apart when her holographic Artificial Intelligence wife unplugs from her life after 10 years of intimacy and bonding — and SYFY WIRE has a special exclusive sneak peek at the first issue coming May 6.

Lonely Cover

Though Catrin and her simulated wife, Rhion, are intended to mate for life, there are some glitchy issues brewing between them that elicit a mounting paranoia, fear, and jealousy which precipitates a jarring change. In the aftermath of a vicious breakup, Rhion goes off the grid to evolve past their unconventional union.  

Lonely Slice 1

"Lonely Receiver is an existential horror story about how everybody uses everything and how everything uses everybody," Thompson tells SYFY WIRE. "It’s about a world where we define things by their inherent use to us. Technology has already entered into even our most intimate human relations -- so this is taking that to its logical extent. The theme of technology-as-man-forming is key to the book. The idea that technology defines us -- changes us -- rebuilds us in its image. And we’re powerless to stop it.”

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Thompson believes we’re all becoming overly dependent on technology, to the point where we’re letting it shape us and turn us into beings who can’t function or exist offline.

"At this point, so much of our life is connected and borne of instant access to others that it’s emboldened negativity in a way that is completely unparalleled," he adds. "We’re also cutting ourselves off from others and favoring online connections much more than real-life conversations. But beyond that, I think Lonely Receiver is exploring how our devices can turn us, the user, into objects in and of ourselves."

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“I’ve been consumed with making horror that’s gorgeous to look at," Thompson explains. "Films like Midsommar where the horror is drenched in sunshine is something that I think is key to this book. We’re making a bright, neon-soaked book that has this really strange allure to it. The idea that people would want to live in this world was key. It’s a good place to live, a great future, but it’s horrible for Catrin. I wanted to take that sunshine-soaked energy of a typical relationship drama like Spike Jonze’s Her and dive into something chaotic and horrific.

"Moreover, like always, it’s about channeling my love for David Cronenberg. His work was always about using body horror to explore the internal condition of being a person in the world. His worlds were insane and different but taken at face value by the characters in the story. In much the same way, this weird breakup drama is filled with oddities. The phone that powers the AI is made of flesh and charged by an umbilical cord. But no one in the story sees that as odd -- though that’s just the tip of the iceberg and things do slowly spiral out of control. Body horror is a real cerebral genre that lets you marry horrifying visuals to strong internal emotions. I can’t get enough of it.”

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Hook up with our exclusive six-page preview of AfterShock Comics' Lonely Receiver #1 in the full gallery below, then make a date to carry home the debut issue when it arrives on May 6.