Original ideas are illegal in the world of Victor Santos’ I.P.P.: Intellectual Property Police, a new sci-fi comic from digital publisher Stela that follows an I.P.P. agent, Calliope, as she fights to keep the world saturated exclusively with licensed fiction. Santos has done phenomenal work creating a rich futuristic world in the new series—the first chapter of which is available for free on Stela’s app—and he’s using the concept to explore the importance of innovation and imagination via a Silver Age comic book Calliope acquires during a case. That relic is modeled on the work of Jack Kirby, and I.P.P. is one big tribute to the work of one of comics’ greatest thinkers.

In this preview of this week’s I.P.P. chapter three, Santos spotlights how Calliope has become fixated on the comic she’s discovered, which is beginning to open her eyes to the restrictive ideals to which she’s devoted her life. That feeling of being caged in is amplified by the tight layout of the sequence where a store full of people are singing along to a song about freedom, and Calliope’s shifting emotions toward her superiors are subtly reinforced by the shot of her boss Zelag’s reflection in her goggles, gaining a sinister quality thanks to the flames under his face. Santos has a great understanding of what works for Stela’s vertical-scrolling format, and that knowledge has helped make I.P.P. one of the publisher’s most compelling titles.

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