Upgrade Soul
For their 45th anniversary, Hank and Molly Nonnar decide to undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure, but their hopes for youth are dashed when the couple is faced with the results: severely disfigured yet intellectually and physically superior duplicates of themselves. Can the original Hank and Molly coexist in the same world as their clones? In Upgrade Soul, McDuffie Award-winning creator Ezra Claytan Daniels asks probing questions about what shapes our identity-Is it the capability of our minds or the physicality of our bodies? Is a newer, better version of yourself still you? This page-turning graphic novel follows the lives of Hank and Molly as they discover the harsh truth that only one version of themselves is fated to survive.

Upgrade Soul Details

TitleUpgrade Soul
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 18th, 2018
PublisherLion Forge
ISBN-139781549302923
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Comics, Science Fiction, Fiction

Upgrade Soul Review

  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    Updated (Sept. 19/18) Apparently this book has now been optioned to be turned into a film. I would definitely check that out -- I think it's likely that the things I found confusing could be better explained in a film version.Upgrade Soul has an interesting premise: an elderly couple decide to undergo an experimental treatment but it goes very wrong, leaving them disfigured and questioning whether they made the right decision.I'm not entirely sure how to rate this book. On the one hand, the stor Updated (Sept. 19/18) Apparently this book has now been optioned to be turned into a film. I would definitely check that out -- I think it's likely that the things I found confusing could be better explained in a film version.Upgrade Soul has an interesting premise: an elderly couple decide to undergo an experimental treatment but it goes very wrong, leaving them disfigured and questioning whether they made the right decision.I'm not entirely sure how to rate this book. On the one hand, the story was unique and the idea was interesting. On the other hand, the frequent flashbacks and art style left me confused at times. I didn't want to race through this, but I also didn't want to abandon it. So a middle of the road ranking from me with a 2.5 rounded up to 3 stars.Thank you to NetGalley and Diamond Book Distributors for providing me with a DRC of this book.
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  • Ana
    January 1, 1970
    Upgrade Soul is a thought-provoking take on risky ‘medical’ experimenting, on being your ‘best,’ strongest self, and the search for eternal youth via some key ethical issues in a way that I haven’t seen done before. For someone who studies identity, selfhood, and the comics medium, this graphic novel was nothing short of impressive. Molly and Hank. Manuela and Henry. Originals and clones, more different than they are alike. The aftermath of their failed procedure is interspaced with flashbacks Upgrade Soul is a thought-provoking take on risky ‘medical’ experimenting, on being your ‘best,’ strongest self, and the search for eternal youth via some key ethical issues in a way that I haven’t seen done before. For someone who studies identity, selfhood, and the comics medium, this graphic novel was nothing short of impressive. Molly and Hank. Manuela and Henry. Originals and clones, more different than they are alike. The aftermath of their failed procedure is interspaced with flashbacks, which makes it easier for the reader to digest the very heavy subject matter. As one of the characters says at some point, “there’s some seriously screwed up stuff going on here.” More than the overall screwed-up-ness, there are some shocking turns the story takes. The art style with the brightly washed panels reminded me of the 80s horror/sci-fi comics and the overall atmosphere and pacing resemble that of a psychological thriller. The lettering, however, made it difficult for me to read, even on a big screen. I am curious to see it in print.*Thanks to NetGalley, Diamond Book Distributors, Lion Forge & the author for the opportunity to read a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    What is life? What is a soul? What is a clone?All of these questions and more are asked in this book about a couple trying to gain another go-round on the wheel of life, by having their souls put into new bodies, that in theory, will be better, younger, and stronger than their current ones.However, it doesn't quite work out that way.Not only do their new bodies not grow the way they are supposed to, but their old bodies are still alive and kicking.Very disturbing graphic novel on the nature of w What is life? What is a soul? What is a clone?All of these questions and more are asked in this book about a couple trying to gain another go-round on the wheel of life, by having their souls put into new bodies, that in theory, will be better, younger, and stronger than their current ones.However, it doesn't quite work out that way.Not only do their new bodies not grow the way they are supposed to, but their old bodies are still alive and kicking.Very disturbing graphic novel on the nature of what makes you, well, you. Both the clone as the original want their lives. Who deserves it? And is it ok to get a new life, in a body that is considered hideous?Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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  • Barbara (The Bibliophage)
    January 1, 1970
    Ezra Claytan Daniels is both author and illustrator of the new graphic novel, Upgrade Soul. In it, Hank and Molly decide to undergo an experimental procedure to regain their youth.Daniels tells how this long-married couple makes such a momentous decision. He shows what kind of people they are, and also how they came to have the money to invest in such a thing. To do so, he uses both present-day images and flashbacks.As you might imagine, the process doesn’t go quite as planned. The “medical” tea Ezra Claytan Daniels is both author and illustrator of the new graphic novel, Upgrade Soul. In it, Hank and Molly decide to undergo an experimental procedure to regain their youth.Daniels tells how this long-married couple makes such a momentous decision. He shows what kind of people they are, and also how they came to have the money to invest in such a thing. To do so, he uses both present-day images and flashbacks.As you might imagine, the process doesn’t go quite as planned. The “medical” team might not be quite as qualified as Hank and Molly thought. The process might not be quite as proven. And if it had been, the novel wouldn’t have been so thought-provoking.Conceptually, Daniels discusses some pretty intense topics. Lots of graphic novels have death as one of their themes. But not often as such a realistic impulse to spurn death and regain youth. Since my husband signed up last week for Medicare, thoughts about aging are very much on my mind. So Upgrade Soul was a good match for am evening’s reading.Hank, Molly, and their caregivers also confront the question of identity, and what it means to be a person. If personhood includes the ability to both live and die, as well as think and feel, then the experimental results do indeed have a soul. Or do they? Are they just an extension of Hank’s and Molly’s souls? Heavy stuff, actually.Musician and lyricist Tori Amos puts it this way, “I think you have to know who you are. Get to know the monster that lives in your soul, dive deep into your soul and explore it.”Daniels conjures brightly washed images, alternately stark and almost shocking. He draws Hank and Molly with empathy and care. They’ve remained in my mind’s eye even after finishing the novel.My conclusions:Upgrade Soul is a compelling story, and worth an evening’s time. I appreciate Daniels’ ability to discuss the process of aging and the desire to reverse time. He takes an innovative and intelligent approach to both topics. At the same time, he creates a suspenseful story.Acknowledgements:Thanks to NetGalley, Lion Forge, Diamond Book Distributors, and the author for the opportunity to read a digital ARC in exchange for this honest review. Anticipated publication date is September 18, 2018.Originally published on my blog, TheBibliophage.com.
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  • Samantha Colwell
    January 1, 1970
    This is, without a doubt, the best graphic novel I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It was sharp, intelligent, horrifying and graphic. The phrase "I couldn't put it down" hardly does it justice. I'm a sucker for any media which doesn't pander to an audience; books that presume the audience is intelligent, rather than treating us like spoon to mouth consumers. Ruminating on the implications of Daniels work is going to be my favorite part of finishing the novel--the thought experiment carries This is, without a doubt, the best graphic novel I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It was sharp, intelligent, horrifying and graphic. The phrase "I couldn't put it down" hardly does it justice. I'm a sucker for any media which doesn't pander to an audience; books that presume the audience is intelligent, rather than treating us like spoon to mouth consumers. Ruminating on the implications of Daniels work is going to be my favorite part of finishing the novel--the thought experiment carries on. Hank and Molly are undergoing a very dangerous procedure to cleanse their cells. A scientific breakthrough makes it possible for their youth to be reintroduced, the longevity of their already long-lived lives to renew, with ever improving mental faculties and physical abilities. What would you be if you had more time to live, were as fit as any athlete, and could remember every memory in your personal history like it happened yesterday? Like all brave experiments, this one goes awry. Kenny, the sheepish scientist in charge of the transformation, leaves out one particularly important aspect of the rejuvenation process: Hank and Molly's bodies aren't the ones renewing. They're being cloned. As the experiment continues, only one set of Hank and Molly can survive, but which will it be?So.Much. Humanity. In such a small volume. I wish that there was more already, and yet the story completes itself to a perfect crescendo. You won't believe how engrossed you can be in a graphic novel until you read this.
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  • Melanie (Perpetually Reading)
    January 1, 1970
    Daniel's graphic novel, "Upgrade Soul" uses beautiful graphics and dialogue to create an engaging story that's hard not to talk about. This story features an elderly couple, Molly and Hank, who undergo a advanced, untested procedure to get new, younger bodies. However, they soon learn that the whole operation is not what it seems. It begs the question, if our consciousness was a collection of our thoughts, memories, and experiences, can we just "upload" them into a new body? If we do, are we who Daniel's graphic novel, "Upgrade Soul" uses beautiful graphics and dialogue to create an engaging story that's hard not to talk about. This story features an elderly couple, Molly and Hank, who undergo a advanced, untested procedure to get new, younger bodies. However, they soon learn that the whole operation is not what it seems. It begs the question, if our consciousness was a collection of our thoughts, memories, and experiences, can we just "upload" them into a new body? If we do, are we who we were before?I loved how the story cuts back and forth between the past and present. The structure not only gives the reader a thorough background of why Molly and Hank decided on undergoing this risky procedure, but also that this whole situation could've been avoided. It made me want to reach over, pat them on the back and tell them that everything just looks greener on the other side. It was very refreshing to have such a straightforward path through this story. Daniels does a great job presenting a difficult and complicated idea in a easy to understand form, and I appreciated the fact that I didn't have to think too hard while I was reading. I was able to enjoy the ride, and reflect on it myself afterwards. In all, this novel was a solid 5-star read, and I'd love to see more of Daniel's work in the future.
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  • Diane Hernandez
    January 1, 1970
    Upgrade Soul is a thought-provoking new graphic novel about the nature of humanity and the dangers of technology.Hank and Molly are rich and elderly. They decide to do an experimental medical treatment that promises to make them young and healthy again. Problems occur. Ethical questions arise. What does it mean to be human? Is it the mind or the body that defines humanity? What is the impact of the changes brought on by aging? The unexpected turns of the plot are the best part of Upgrade Soul. T Upgrade Soul is a thought-provoking new graphic novel about the nature of humanity and the dangers of technology.Hank and Molly are rich and elderly. They decide to do an experimental medical treatment that promises to make them young and healthy again. Problems occur. Ethical questions arise. What does it mean to be human? Is it the mind or the body that defines humanity? What is the impact of the changes brought on by aging? The unexpected turns of the plot are the best part of Upgrade Soul. To avoid spoilers, I won’t say more.Wow, I adored this philosophical graphic novel! It makes the reader think about many profound issues that resonate long after the novel is finished. It also won a Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics. Upgrade Soul is highly recommended. 5 stars!Thanks to the publisher, Lion Forge, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Poised somewhere between science fiction and horror, this is a terrific graphic novel about an interracial elderly couple – Molly, a research scientist, and Hank, who longs to revive his father’s comic book series featuring a black hero, Slane – who offer themselves up as benefactors and guinea pigs for an experimental procedure to upload their memories to physically improved clones. Things go awry, of course, forcing everyone involved to rethink the nature of memory and loss and consider what i Poised somewhere between science fiction and horror, this is a terrific graphic novel about an interracial elderly couple – Molly, a research scientist, and Hank, who longs to revive his father’s comic book series featuring a black hero, Slane – who offer themselves up as benefactors and guinea pigs for an experimental procedure to upload their memories to physically improved clones. Things go awry, of course, forcing everyone involved to rethink the nature of memory and loss and consider what importance appearance versus disfigurement has. The book is long enough to have the strong story line and characters that would appeal to a fiction reader who’s new to graphic novels. (It only took me so long to get through because I was reading it on my computer screen and kept forgetting to open up the file in ADE.)
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  • Kathrin
    January 1, 1970
    This book was provided to me by NetGalley and Diamond Book Distributors. All opinions are my own. Pub Date 18th Sep 2018.A cell rejuvenation experiment has unanticipated consequences and leaves us with quite a moral dilemma. Too be honest, the art work here was not very appealing to me, but I thought the premises of the story was really innovative and smart. Especially the different behavior of the two clones relative to their originals was very interesting along with the thoughts on ethics in r This book was provided to me by NetGalley and Diamond Book Distributors. All opinions are my own. Pub Date 18th Sep 2018.A cell rejuvenation experiment has unanticipated consequences and leaves us with quite a moral dilemma. Too be honest, the art work here was not very appealing to me, but I thought the premises of the story was really innovative and smart. Especially the different behavior of the two clones relative to their originals was very interesting along with the thoughts on ethics in research.
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  • Katherine
    January 1, 1970
    Upgrade Soul is a thought-provoking and delightfully disturbing graphic novel. As someone who considers themselves a science fiction layman, I'm always on the lookout for unique premises to grab my attention. This dark story did just that, and more. Elderly couple Hank and Molly opt to participate in an experimental treatment that promises renewed youth and health. There's no going back, but what could go wrong? Lots of things, it turns out! Upgrade Soul doesn't shy from tackling the big stuff. Upgrade Soul is a thought-provoking and delightfully disturbing graphic novel. As someone who considers themselves a science fiction layman, I'm always on the lookout for unique premises to grab my attention. This dark story did just that, and more. Elderly couple Hank and Molly opt to participate in an experimental treatment that promises renewed youth and health. There's no going back, but what could go wrong? Lots of things, it turns out! Upgrade Soul doesn't shy from tackling the big stuff. How do our minds and bodies define us? What happens when they're separated? If you enjoy Black Mirror, you will feel the same thrill reading this thoughtful and complex story. Daniels approaches these topics with detailed and muted artwork that sets the tone. And look at that cover! There's a certain joy in seeing philosophically intricate ideas captured in illustration. Upgrade Soul is a reminder that there is a lot of humanity to be explored in this medium. I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.I received my copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley, Lion Forge, and Diamond Book Distributers.
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  • Melinda
    January 1, 1970
    I struggled to really get into this graphic novel and I feared that my reading slump would hit again but once I got past chapter 5 or so, I didn't want to put the book down! I am really fascinated about all the dilemmas that are brought up in this story and i will definitely be thinking about them for a while. I really am fascinated by how the characters and their clones interacted and how their personalities were showcased.I definitely plan to reread this story in the future - I feel like I def I struggled to really get into this graphic novel and I feared that my reading slump would hit again but once I got past chapter 5 or so, I didn't want to put the book down! I am really fascinated about all the dilemmas that are brought up in this story and i will definitely be thinking about them for a while. I really am fascinated by how the characters and their clones interacted and how their personalities were showcased.I definitely plan to reread this story in the future - I feel like I definitely missed some parts that I should think about more carefully. Super interesting read though and AMAZING graphics - I loved love loved the graphics and how the chapters were often split up by modern and past scenes that were mirror images or mimicked each other. So fascinating and I loved the colors scheme!
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    This is a quick, yet important read. It follows the decision between an aging couple to clone themselves into their younger counterparts. The problem is that the cloning goes wrong. The clones do not get to the age that the couple wanted. Instead, they end up horrifically disfigured, but still with the majority of the memories of the original couple. The two sets of couples find each other and begin to interact, against the advice of the doctor. That is where this experiment takes a tragic moral This is a quick, yet important read. It follows the decision between an aging couple to clone themselves into their younger counterparts. The problem is that the cloning goes wrong. The clones do not get to the age that the couple wanted. Instead, they end up horrifically disfigured, but still with the majority of the memories of the original couple. The two sets of couples find each other and begin to interact, against the advice of the doctor. That is where this experiment takes a tragic moralistic turn.This graphic novel explores the story of not only the original couple but of the clones as well. What are the moral and ethical implications of doing such an experiment? What does it mean to continue living your life aging while another part of you tries to begin life in the middle of it? Does it even matter to your aging self if you know that you are still dying and only your memories will survive in another being, rather than your consciousness? What happens when the clone develops ideas and a mind of its own? Who does this harm: the original couple, the clones, the medical staff, family members, friends, etc.? Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an advanced copy to read. All opinions are my own.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Bizarre in an existential crisis sort of way. I love the concept, the main characters (Both Hank and Molly and Henry and Manuela) are incredibly complex and well developed, as it were. The only drawback was the nonlinear timeline-- the frequent flashbacks to different points in time were a bit confusing, and sometimes jarring. I think I would have been completely lost if I had read this across more than two sittings. The art is excellent, and fits the mood and narrative very well. It's all incre Bizarre in an existential crisis sort of way. I love the concept, the main characters (Both Hank and Molly and Henry and Manuela) are incredibly complex and well developed, as it were. The only drawback was the nonlinear timeline-- the frequent flashbacks to different points in time were a bit confusing, and sometimes jarring. I think I would have been completely lost if I had read this across more than two sittings. The art is excellent, and fits the mood and narrative very well. It's all incredibly heavy, though, as much good sci fi is.
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  • Marianna
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed the coloring but not the traits of the drawings. The story is OK but nothing original and nothing I didn't really like, it didn't grab my attention. Besides, it's super sad, and I don't really want sadness in my life at the moment.Not my cup of tea.
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  • Peter
    January 1, 1970
    This hooked me until I finished it. A brilliant story that raises important questions and clothes them in characters you’ll never forget.
  • Elaine
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of Upgrade Soul. I was excited to receive an early copy because the premise was so fascinating, a timely topic with a creepy twist in our vanity obsessed society. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** Hank and Molly Nonnar have been happily married for 45 years. As an anniversary present, they decide to undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure that will enhance their longevity, intelligence, and physical prowess.Except, something goes wrong. Twilight Zone wron Thank you to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of Upgrade Soul. I was excited to receive an early copy because the premise was so fascinating, a timely topic with a creepy twist in our vanity obsessed society. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** Hank and Molly Nonnar have been happily married for 45 years. As an anniversary present, they decide to undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure that will enhance their longevity, intelligence, and physical prowess.Except, something goes wrong. Twilight Zone wrong.Hank and Molly are still old and decrepit, trapped in their aging bodies. Their new selves are clones, not exact clones, but potato sacks because the procedure was interrupted early in the process.They are appalled, traumatized and strangely mesmerized by these clones, who are surpassing all expectations in terms of intelligence, dexterity and physical abilities.What a shock that the doctors did not disclose this teeny tiny detail. I'm sure it wasn't also in the fine print of the contract the couple signed. This was a nice jab at the medical establishment by the author. As the Nonnars adjust to interacting with their clones and dealing with unforeseen side effects, we get frequent flashbacks into how the Nonnars were introduced to this procedure, their initial misgivings and their eagerness to take a chance at such an experimental scientific procedure.I had certain expectations of Upgrade Soul, thinking it was going to be dark and tragic, bloody and traumatic but it turned out to be deeply sad, depressing, as we are introduced to the doctor's original reason for developing such a controversial procedure, his deformed sister, Lina.The author's drawing style is dramatic and effective; the many lines and wrinkles on the Nonnars' faces, the clean lines of the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, and the clean lines of Lina's own face, startling beautiful because it is not what anyone expects.I don't think its a coincidence that the author draws the doctor in a way that evokes untrustworthiness and shifty behavior; bulging eyes, long, craggy face, slumped shoulders. Or maybe that's just me transferring my own feelings about doctors onto drawings.There are a few plot holes that left me wondering:The doctor's own staff eventually begin to question the morality and ethics of the procedure and dissension splits them apart. The dissent seems to happen abruptly, when a slower transition would have been more powerful. Was it because Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads were scary? Or because the doctor was so consumed that the procedure would work, he says to benefit his sister, but was it really just an ego trip?Or was it because Lina and one clone began to lose their grip on reality? Why?FYI, I don't think Lina is of sound mind and body to be running the company in her brother's place as he recovers, either. I could suspend belief here but it made me mad.Also, I was confused as to why the Nonnars would agree to undergo a procedure when human trials had not yet been done. Why volunteer themselves as guinea pigs wholeheartedly? There was no explanation or justification as to why they would volunteer their bodies, still hale and hearty despite their age. They could have ended up as two heads on one body. Why were they so convinced the procedure would work when it has never been attempted on human subjects before?There is a incestuous twist that is briefly mentioned, perhaps to explain why certain people are attracted to one another, which I've read is a real thing.The ending is decent, as the status quo reasserts itself but its not without hope, though wrought with psychological pain and the devastating consequences we all must deal with in the aftermath of the choices we have made.The Nonnars learn a bitter truth that is one of my favorite mantras in life: It could always be worse.
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  • Dominic
    January 1, 1970
    There have been countless in science fiction using advances in cloning technology to ask questions about human identity. Science fiction has also used different forms of humanoids or aliens to explore race and racial identity. Upgrade Soul merges these two with a unique take on this subgenere of science fiction. The author, Ezra Claytan Daniels, won the Dwayne McDuffie Award for diverse representation in the comics medium.The book starts with Hank and Molly Nonnar, an elderly couple, deciding to There have been countless in science fiction using advances in cloning technology to ask questions about human identity. Science fiction has also used different forms of humanoids or aliens to explore race and racial identity. Upgrade Soul merges these two with a unique take on this subgenere of science fiction. The author, Ezra Claytan Daniels, won the Dwayne McDuffie Award for diverse representation in the comics medium.The book starts with Hank and Molly Nonnar, an elderly couple, deciding to undergo a radical genetic procedure designed to "upgrade" their bodies by removing the effects of aging, stress, and trauma from their cells. The procedure is only partially successful. The Via lab used clones to create the new bodies, but the clones only developed to the physical stage of a fetus. The new bodies - known as Manuela and Henry - possess all of Molly and Hank's memories, as well as heightened mental and physical abilities, but look like overgrown potatoes. Meanwhile, the original Molly and Hank look like their original selves, but are physically and mentally weakened. As is often the case in these stories, there is a link between the two such that the "copy" cannot survive without the "original." This forces the characters to ask which one "deserves" to survive. The "original" has the body, but the "copy" has the mind. This is a classic mind-body problem (see my essay in After the Avengers). Where does the human soul truly reside? In the corporal brain or in the accumulated memories?For Hank, the dilemma has a racial dimension because so much of his identity is tied to his African-American heritage, yet his "copy" Henry lacks a race. There's a particularly compelling conversation in which Henry scolds Hank for limiting his identity to a "label." Yet, we as the readers get to see Henry's past as someone who strove for African-American representation in pop culture and know that race is more than a label to him. There's even a debate about representation in pop culture within the comic (I especially appreciate the jab at Kurtzman and Orci, the team behind the Star Trek reboots).Admittedly, the story does require a bit of suspension of disbelief, particularly when it comes to the extremes the Via company goes to mislead Hank and Molly. It's hard to believe that a company could actually expect a nondisclosure agreement to cover the types of abuse that occurred in the lab. Then again, the rogue science corporation is pretty much a necessary conceit for this type of story. Scientists held to peer review wouldn't get away with any of this.Packaging Upgrade Soul as a graphic novel seems like a particularly appropriate choice given the emphasis on physicality and appearance. I doubt the story would have had nearly the impact as a novella without the images of Molly and Hank's new bodies. Seeing their misshapen forms underscores the physical deformity and makes it more challenging for readers to passively accept them as "human." Instead, Upgrade Soul requires viewers to consciously choose to accept the new beings as human. That said, I'd recommend whoever does the penciling on this comic to increase the spacing between words. In a few places, the spaces seemed almost nonexistent, causing me to puzzle over the presence of a hitherto never before mentioned "tome" ("to me").Overall, this is one of those comics that I feel comfortable recommending to fans of science fiction who aren't necessarily fans of graphic novels. Upgrade Soul feels like a short story that might appear in Locus, but works better because of the artwork.The collected edition of Upgrade Soul comes out on September 18, 2018.[Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]
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  • Emmy
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. So, perhaps I'll comment on the stuff that I liked first. The artwork was excellent, and the pacing was nice and suspenseful. But, I did have some issues with the story itself.So, elderly couple Molly and Hank decide to fund a risky experimental procedure that's supposed to make you younger, stronger, and smarter than before, on the caveat that they can be the first human test subjects. What their doctors don't tell them is that the experiment has I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. So, perhaps I'll comment on the stuff that I liked first. The artwork was excellent, and the pacing was nice and suspenseful. But, I did have some issues with the story itself.So, elderly couple Molly and Hank decide to fund a risky experimental procedure that's supposed to make you younger, stronger, and smarter than before, on the caveat that they can be the first human test subjects. What their doctors don't tell them is that the experiment has already been tested with animals, but instead of improving the original body, it creates a deformed clone (that is indeed smarter and stronger, but...not quite right).In Molly and Hank's cases, these clones are slimy-looking creatures that appear to be a cross between a gummy bear and a human fetus. They're highly intelligent, with complete memory recall and rapidly increasing strength. But, the originals are left in worse shape than before.It's a fascinating read on the nature of what makes us us. Is it our minds? Our bodies? Our memories? Our souls? If the mind inhabits a different body, is that a different person? What happens when you have the mind in two bodies, but one has a superior memory? Which is the real one? And chillingly, if one of them needed to die so that the other might live, which one do you kill? The inferior original? The superior clone?There are a lot of uncomfortable implications in this book, which Daniels certainly addresses, but even so, you're left with a lot of questions at the end, and in my opinion, not a lot of satisfaction. I liked Kenny as a character and I felt bad about his broken jaw, but at the same time, he was very much to blame for what was going on, and his impending jail time provided some consolation. On the other hand, I thought that Lina deserved more of a punishment by the end. Instead, she literally gets away with murder (sounds like they pinned it as "manslaughter" on someone else), and the best that she can say is that her brother is "a piece of shit" like that makes everything she did any better.Honestly, the biggest twist for me was Henry. Hank was such a kind and loving person, and I supposed that Henry would mirror him, just like Manuela mirrored Molly. Perhaps it was meant to be a sign that he had "evolved" past emotions, but I thought that Henry's dogged, callus, and cold determination to protect himself (by attempting to kill Hank) was less than justified. I'm not saying that he should have died, but by the end of the book, he was quite terrifying.Did I enjoy reading this? Not exactly. But, I did have a hard time putting it down. While I will probably not pick it up again or recommend it to anyone, I will say that it was well-crafted and fascinating. Just not fun.
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  • David Edmonds
    January 1, 1970
    To be honest, I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Ezra Claytan Daniels' Upgrade Soul; on the one hand it's a brilliant, challenging, and dark cautionary tale about the dangers of immorality in science, and on the other it's a slow and sometimes confusing study of individuality and what makes a person a person, the body, soul, or mind. I think some could categorize this as a science fiction story, while others could see it as horror; it does meet somewhere in the middle of these genres.For thei To be honest, I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Ezra Claytan Daniels' Upgrade Soul; on the one hand it's a brilliant, challenging, and dark cautionary tale about the dangers of immorality in science, and on the other it's a slow and sometimes confusing study of individuality and what makes a person a person, the body, soul, or mind. I think some could categorize this as a science fiction story, while others could see it as horror; it does meet somewhere in the middle of these genres.For their 45th anniversary, the Fred and Molly Nonnar decide to finance and undergo an experimental procedure that in theory will rejuvenate their cells and make them younger, stronger, smarter, and better in every way so that they can live an even longer and more fulfilled life than the one they have now. However, the scientists behind the procedure are not completely upfront about what the procedure will actually do, and instead of rejuvenating their own bodies, the Nonnars discover that they were to be cloned into a new body, with their memories and life experiences uploaded into these new bodies. However, something goes horribly wrong, and the clones come out of the procedure wildly disfigured, but better than their original bodies in every other way, while the Nonnars are left weaker and more feeble than before. What comes of this is back and forth tension about which pair is more "qualified" to live, the originals who are left lesser than they were before, or the clones, who are now superior, but ultimately incapable of living a "normal" life due to their disfigurations. There are several side plots concerning the actually motivation of the scientist heading up the program, a love story or two, and the families thoughts on what has happened to the Nonnars, but at the end of the day, this book is ultimately their story. I think it is a challenging book and pushes you to think about what makes you an individual, but it just didn't resonate with me as much as I would have liked. The story was sometimes too slow, the art sometimes too sparse, the timeline sometimes too confusing. Still, I'm glad that I read it. This book will have its audience and I think that it's going to start conversations about what it implies. I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Upgrade Soul is a book that reminds me of lots of different books I've read, but it's like nothing I've read at the same time. Molly and Hank are an elderly couple who go through an experimental anti-aging process. Hank is enthusiastic, having invested money in the company performing the procedures, while Molly needs some convincing, but eventually agrees. The procedure does not go as planned, and soon they are faced with Manuela and Henry, blob like doppelgangers that have their memories and se Upgrade Soul is a book that reminds me of lots of different books I've read, but it's like nothing I've read at the same time. Molly and Hank are an elderly couple who go through an experimental anti-aging process. Hank is enthusiastic, having invested money in the company performing the procedures, while Molly needs some convincing, but eventually agrees. The procedure does not go as planned, and soon they are faced with Manuela and Henry, blob like doppelgangers that have their memories and seem to be improving as Molly and Hank get worse. Add to this story a ruthless company head, a morally conflicted brother, and his sister, who is literally and metaphorical finding her voice for the first time, and you have a rich story that will have you pondering medical ethics, aging, quality of life, and what it means to have an identity. Molly and Hank are highly educated, and truly think that this procedure is worth pursuing, not only to regain some of the glory of their younger days, but to contribute to the scientific community. There are no clear moral stances taken. This story in less capable hands could have come to pat moral conclusions (science bad! age naturally!), but it doesn't. Upgrade Soul was unlike any other science fiction comic I've read, and I won't soon forget it. Thanks to NetGalley for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Arden Belrose
    January 1, 1970
    3.5/5 starsI liked the topics dealt in this graphic novel. Lots of questions on morality, immortality, cloning, disfigurement, identity and the fight for racism. Now that I put it like that I'm a bit awed as to how Ezra Daniels managed to include all of those themes and still tell a story. It's a tragic story with a bittersweet ending. (view spoiler)[Some things are resolved but some actions go unpunished. (hide spoiler)] I didn't take to the font chosen or the slightly low-res illustrations. It 3.5/5 starsI liked the topics dealt in this graphic novel. Lots of questions on morality, immortality, cloning, disfigurement, identity and the fight for racism. Now that I put it like that I'm a bit awed as to how Ezra Daniels managed to include all of those themes and still tell a story. It's a tragic story with a bittersweet ending. (view spoiler)[Some things are resolved but some actions go unpunished. (hide spoiler)] I didn't take to the font chosen or the slightly low-res illustrations. It's a thought provoking story, some of the tech talk lost me but you can still get the gist of the whole story.I received a free copy of this book, thanks to Lion Forge and NetGalley, in return for my honest review.
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  • Wayne McCoy
    January 1, 1970
    'Upgrade Soul' by Ezra Claytan Daniels is a wild ride of a graphic novel. It also manages to address some interesting issues along the way like identity, aging, and what makes us human.Hank and Molly Nonnar are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. Hank buys them an unusual present. A chance to be on the ground floor for a medical procedure that could rejuvenate them and extend their lives. What happens instead is that they wake up in hideous parodies of human bodies. Then they find out th 'Upgrade Soul' by Ezra Claytan Daniels is a wild ride of a graphic novel. It also manages to address some interesting issues along the way like identity, aging, and what makes us human.Hank and Molly Nonnar are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. Hank buys them an unusual present. A chance to be on the ground floor for a medical procedure that could rejuvenate them and extend their lives. What happens instead is that they wake up in hideous parodies of human bodies. Then they find out there is more. They've been cloned, but the original Hank and Molly need to stay close. As the days go by, the clones get stronger and smarter and Hank and Molly grow more feeble. There are other surprises along the way, but I dare not spoil them.What a weird read. When it was over, I couldn't stop thinking about it. The art is unusual, but fits the story very well. The story and the topics bring up are interesting for a graphic novel. At the heart is a story of technology and pride, but also this aging couple who just want to live a little longer.I received a review copy of this graphic novel from Lion Forge, Diamond Book Distributors, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this unusual graphic novel.
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  • Laura Newsholme
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this was a really thoughtful exploration of what it means to be you, the realities of getting old and the importance of family. It tells the story of Molly and Hank, an ageing couple who opt to undergo a revolutionary procedure to 'upgrade' their bodies to gain extra years of life and youth. The ramifications of this decision are wide-reaching and incredibly well explored through the novel, which follows the couple as they come to terms with the results of their experiment. I thought t I thought this was a really thoughtful exploration of what it means to be you, the realities of getting old and the importance of family. It tells the story of Molly and Hank, an ageing couple who opt to undergo a revolutionary procedure to 'upgrade' their bodies to gain extra years of life and youth. The ramifications of this decision are wide-reaching and incredibly well explored through the novel, which follows the couple as they come to terms with the results of their experiment. I thought that the writing was great and the artwork was fantastic as it provided a visual representation of the characters emotional responses that was very effective. The plot is quite straightforward but the novel cleverly employs flashback scenes to flesh out the narrative without resorting to large info-dump sections. The characters are well defined and their motivations and reactions felt authentic throughout. There were a few occasions where I felt like the action was running a little long and the pacing was a little patchy in places, but all in all, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in genetic manipulation in fiction.I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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  • Theediscerning
    January 1, 1970
    A really impactful, sensitive and intelligent sci-fi drama. Two elderly people, long married but with regrets about what might have been, sign up for an exclusive, secretive and illegal science experiment, where cell regeneration technologies are supposed to make them fitter/happier than ever. What comes out the other end is not quite as anyone hoped – and certainly not what the 'mad scientist' type (for want of a better phrase) seeking remedial science for his disfigured sister wanted. If anyth A really impactful, sensitive and intelligent sci-fi drama. Two elderly people, long married but with regrets about what might have been, sign up for an exclusive, secretive and illegal science experiment, where cell regeneration technologies are supposed to make them fitter/happier than ever. What comes out the other end is not quite as anyone hoped – and certainly not what the 'mad scientist' type (for want of a better phrase) seeking remedial science for his disfigured sister wanted. If anything the book could be marked down for not easing us in to the many flashbacks and so on in the early stages (for such a scientific book, with such scientific characters, it's a little shy on giving us data like a timeline) – but really all negatives are so minor as to hardly be worth mentioning. The subdued palette, the black comedy of a remote scientist living through a TV with fake arms attached to its sides, the subtle way the, er, results are made to look different through their gendered voice-boxes… there is clearly a lot of clever thought on these pages. It's nice that this is perfectly self-contained, too – but at the same time the full trilogy will be something to admire. Purchase is strongly recommended.
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  • Sean Kottke
    January 1, 1970
    It's the classic Philosophy 101 epistemological thought experiment on identity rendered in graphica: if you were found to be a clone, with access to the full memory bank and phenomenological experience of another, who would you be? You? The original? Must identity be considered the sole province of an individual? The Doppelganger Syndrome explored here as a result of a botched experiment to achieve total transmigration of the soul into a fresh body (in contrast to, say, a singularity story, with It's the classic Philosophy 101 epistemological thought experiment on identity rendered in graphica: if you were found to be a clone, with access to the full memory bank and phenomenological experience of another, who would you be? You? The original? Must identity be considered the sole province of an individual? The Doppelganger Syndrome explored here as a result of a botched experiment to achieve total transmigration of the soul into a fresh body (in contrast to, say, a singularity story, with upload to a machine). Like a good Philip K. Dick novel, the central theme of what constitutes an authentic identity - and how you know that you are you - is thoughtfully explored, as are contemporary questions of racial identity, representation, and medical ethics. The artwork has the loose, stylized feel of 1970s rotoscoping animation (think Hobbit & LOTR), with a vibrant color palette and shaggy retro fonts. That can occasionally give it a drafty, amateur feel, but the story is well enough constructed to carry the whole. **I received a free digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. **
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  • Hectaizani
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone ages, but one elderly couple learns of an experimental procedure that could restore their youth. A massive donation secures them the right to be the human test subjects. Naturally, there is a problem and the results are wildly different from what they expected. Instead of their physical bodies being rejuvenated they end up with cloned copies. Cloned copies that were halted early in the developmental process so they are unfinished and disfigured. Yet the clones are intellectually and phy Everyone ages, but one elderly couple learns of an experimental procedure that could restore their youth. A massive donation secures them the right to be the human test subjects. Naturally, there is a problem and the results are wildly different from what they expected. Instead of their physical bodies being rejuvenated they end up with cloned copies. Cloned copies that were halted early in the developmental process so they are unfinished and disfigured. Yet the clones are intellectually and physically superior to the originals. So, the question is can they coexist? The concept is superb and quite unique asking some nearly unanswerable questions about identity. The execution was a little confusing because of the flashbacks and jumps in the timeline. The art style is striking and well drawn. Overall, a well crafted and disturbing science fiction story that will appeal to readers who like complex philosophical concepts in their comics.I requested a review copy from Net Galley in return for an honest review.
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  • Kristine
    January 1, 1970
    Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels is a free NetGalley e-comicbook that I read in mid-July.Molly Nonnar and her husband Hank choose to undergo an intensive medical procedure under the banner of the Upgrade Cell Project in order to reset their genetic/molecular makeup to work at a prime, optimal, more youthful level. Prior to this, they are somewhat elderly, highly intelligent, sardonic, really into experimental biology, and brought on as the project’s first human participants. As the graphic n Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels is a free NetGalley e-comicbook that I read in mid-July.Molly Nonnar and her husband Hank choose to undergo an intensive medical procedure under the banner of the Upgrade Cell Project in order to reset their genetic/molecular makeup to work at a prime, optimal, more youthful level. Prior to this, they are somewhat elderly, highly intelligent, sardonic, really into experimental biology, and brought on as the project’s first human participants. As the graphic novel goes on, you begin to realize two things: that the procedure creates two entirely separate, primordial, but fast-learning and adapting versions of Molly & Hank and that the clinicians, departmental heads and think tank representatives for the Upgrade Cell Project, and the Nonnar family all have parts to play and perspectives to unravel, right up until its catastrophic, emotional, unthinkable end. All of this is depicted with a muddy, sallow palette, like shades of a boiled dinner, then the treatment hospital scenes come off as a gakky, hypercolor eyesore.
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  • Elia
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone's positive reviews for this had me very hopeful but I just couldn't get into it. The premise is pretty cool - an elderly couple signs on for an experimental treatment that promises to send them back to their youth, only better - they will be healthier, stronger, wiser and just BETTER than they were before in every way. Of course that's not what actually happens - they end up essentially split in two: one version of them old and on the verge of death, another version incredibly intellige Everyone's positive reviews for this had me very hopeful but I just couldn't get into it. The premise is pretty cool - an elderly couple signs on for an experimental treatment that promises to send them back to their youth, only better - they will be healthier, stronger, wiser and just BETTER than they were before in every way. Of course that's not what actually happens - they end up essentially split in two: one version of them old and on the verge of death, another version incredibly intelligent but horribly and hideously deformed.My problem with the graphic novel was basically that is was SO slow. Nothing about it really grabbed me, and despite the very cool premise, I found it very dull. Also, the art is completely not my taste - in fact I find it kind of gross and unappealing. It doesn't help me to try to read something I already don't care for if even the art can't salvage it for me.
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  • Erik Carl son
    January 1, 1970
    Upgrade Soul is a reminder that the comic medium doesn’t have to be pigeon-holed into the ‘fun’ or ‘adventure’ or even ‘painful real life story’ mold. It’s a science fiction tale along the lines of Bradbury, Sturgeon, and even Ellison.It’s a dark tale of who we are and what makes us tick. It’s an examination of the subtle darkness inside us and the inadvertently terrible things people do in the spirit of improvement. Overall, it’s a compelling read with complex characters (Or at least singular a Upgrade Soul is a reminder that the comic medium doesn’t have to be pigeon-holed into the ‘fun’ or ‘adventure’ or even ‘painful real life story’ mold. It’s a science fiction tale along the lines of Bradbury, Sturgeon, and even Ellison.It’s a dark tale of who we are and what makes us tick. It’s an examination of the subtle darkness inside us and the inadvertently terrible things people do in the spirit of improvement. Overall, it’s a compelling read with complex characters (Or at least singular anthropomorphic characterizations) and a relatively unique plot. There some wonderfully unexpected twists and, in the spirit of classic speculative fiction, an ending that simply stops rather than concludes. If you need a bow to wrap everything up, there is some closure, but if you’re content with chewing on the bigger issues and letting yourself contemplate the issues, you’ll be pleased. There is, like in life, no moral. No closure. No easy solution to the problems of ‘humanity’.
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  • Sara Thompson
    January 1, 1970
    Honestly, I'm not sure I liked this one or not. The book as a whole is okay. The animation is decent and colorful. The characters are distinct enough that I didn't feel confused as to who was who.What has me torn is the theme of this story. It's not bad, I should clarify. It's hard to like something with such a powerful message when the truth is painful. Upgrade Soul explores our use of science to change our existence. We want to live longer, be healthier, be stronger, smarter, etc without reall Honestly, I'm not sure I liked this one or not. The book as a whole is okay. The animation is decent and colorful. The characters are distinct enough that I didn't feel confused as to who was who.What has me torn is the theme of this story. It's not bad, I should clarify. It's hard to like something with such a powerful message when the truth is painful. Upgrade Soul explores our use of science to change our existence. We want to live longer, be healthier, be stronger, smarter, etc without really doing the things we know are good for us. This is all about gaining something without working for it - using science as a shortcut. We all know what happens when we take the shortcut - we are eaten by wolves. What happens when we are the wolves or our companions are the wolves? There is not much I feel I can say without giving the story away. I'll be ruminating on this for some time which I think is the sign of a really good story.
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