THE LIFE OF THE PROTAGONIST of Matt Kindt's new graphic novel Revolver serves as neat shorthand for a whole swath of modern urban malaise: Once an aspiring photojournalist, now Sam works at a lifestyle magazine, cropping photos by day and attending hazy drunken parties by night. One morning, after stumbling home with the usual hangover ("I cannot drink that much again"), he wakes into a world in which everything that can go wrong, has: Society is collapsing under an onslaught of dirty bombs, avian flu, and looting, and Sam finds himself with an outlaw's freedom in a disintegrating America. But when he goes to bed that night, he wakes again into a pre-disaster world—and so his days switch back and forth with every bedtime, from safe but conventional to exciting but deadly, as two storylines unfold on parallel tracks.
Sam's alternate lives allow him seemingly consequence-free behavior: Apocalyptic Sam murders looters and cheats on his girlfriend with his boss; then normal-dimension Sam wakes up in his girlfriend's bed, rolls into work, and gets chewed out by his boss for lateness. But Sam's actions do have psychic consequences—the strain of living double lives leads him to find the self-help guru who seems to be the key to his situation.
Kindt's characters, like his art, can feel at times like mere sketches—but Revolver nonetheless makes for a clever modern parable, as Sam is given dual license to explore the lengths people will go to create meaning in their lives.