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Upgrade Soul

(Upgrade Soul #1-2)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,542 ratings  ·  287 reviews
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, McDuff
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Oni Press
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Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,542 ratings  ·  287 reviews

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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
Greta G
In what’s being described as a David Cronenberg tale, an elderly couple decide to undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure through “cell cleansing”.

Relying on the many approving reviews, I expected this hyped graphic novel to be a profoundly existential and mind-bending tale.

What I got instead was a dense, confusing and painfully slow tale about clones that look just like potatoes with baked hams for arms and legs.

I’m puzzled by the considerable amount of enthusiastic reviews but unfort
Dave Schaafsma
A two volume science fiction story about an older couple who elect to go through a procedure to extend their lives, and of course it goes wrong, they become these weird blobby creatures, where cloning is also involved. So it's sci fi, but also a kind of futuristic horror. Of course as you get older many of the social media ads are about miracle drugs to help extend your life, live forever. And billions of dollars are spent annually on plastic surgery, skin care, and so on. Either way, some kind ...more
Samantha Colwell
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
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 flashbac
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the spoiler free review of Upgrade Soul. If you would like to read the spoiler full review complete with all of the intense twists and turns please visit

I get really excited when I can write a 5 star review that turns into just a gushing ramble of love and admiration for the work of art I just read. This is one of those.

Upgrade Soul has a lot of spoilers so this review will be fairly vague in plot and character points. But I can tell you that it h
Seth T.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
I was put off for a long time from reading Upgrade Soul because of the cover, which evokes artsy fartsy indie comics mystique (like, real indie comics, the scary obtuse kind, not whatever crisply pacakaged competent stories Image and Dark House are putting out). I thought I was going to pick up this book and come away with something resembling a Feeling of what the creator might have been thinking about. Instead, Daniels delivers a fascinating sort of thriller that contemplates race and transhum ...more
Dec 26, 2018 added it
Shelves: 2018-faves
Whew. My heart still hurts.
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Stewart Tame
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow! I had never heard of this book before, but it looked interesting, so I picked it up on a whim. I was a great deal better than I was expecting.

Hank and Molly Nonnar are an elderly couple who undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure: Upgrade Cell. Things don't go as expected. Can the original Hank and Molly coexist with their physically and mentally superior--albeit severely disfigured--clones?

Upgrade Soul raises all sorts of interesting questions about identity, medical ethics, and wh
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
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
Diane Hernandez
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
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
Slightly disappointed in both story and art. A microcosm of a situation written out so blandly (as the potatoes the clones resemble) that it made for a boring narrative with only hints of meaning barely keeping it together. Interesting concept with lots of potential, but delivered in a way that at times literally made me want to skip over pages. Only in the end did I feel it pick up. The art isn't so bad, I enjoyed the style and coloring. Just a repetitive graphic novel in general. ...more
Melanie (Perpetually Reading)
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
Ed Erwin
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, sf, apps
Really good sci-fi / horror story about cloning gone horribly wrong.

A scientist creates a method to upgrade your body into the most perfect version of you. He mainly is trying to help his sister who was born with only half a head and no nose. (Reminiscent of the film "Eyes without a face".)

The first humans to get to try the procedure are not the sister, but an elderly married couple of investors who gave the most money. Instead of becoming beautiful new people, they wake up in pain, looking like
Hannah Garden
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Whaaaaat the fuuuuuuuck everybody please read this now you will lose your MIND.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This comic pulls no punches. It's a complicated and emotional story of human scientific daring and utter folly. The lead characters are Hank and Molly Nonnar, a couple who have been married for 45 years. Molly is a doctor and researcher, and Hank is an author who writes novels about the popular sci-fi character his father invented in the 1950s. A big movie deal gives him the funds to begin investing in a ground-breaking, but under-tested, experiment: a way to rejuvenate and improve the body at t ...more
This was pretty amazing and grotesque. It's a fascinating meditation on identity and aging. The art is detailed. The story also had subplots could be their own film. I keep thinking about it. ...more
Stephanie (aka WW)
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hank and Molly undergo experimental cell rejuvenation in an attempt to create ideal versions of themselves. The result is disturbing to say the least. If you're a fan of graphic novels, you shouldn't miss this unique addition to the genre. It'll give you something to think about, maybe even to have nightmares about. ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Upgrade Soul is one of the comics that was rated best of 2018 by a couple of sources. Originally published online, this complete edition of it is well worth reading at least once. The words science fiction masterpiece come to mind, but honestly I think calling it that would be a bit of a disservice to the comic itself. The description has been overused a lot. Instead, I'll say that it is a brilliant comic. It utilizes science fiction in order to question the elements that make us unique, make u ...more
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 ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Found this in a "best of 2018" list and while there's some interesting stuff here, it's ultimately rather dull. An older married couple agree to undergo an experimental procedure that is supposed to create younger, more perfect clone versions of themselves, but which goes horribly wrong, resulting in blobby, potato-looking giant fetuses. Eventually, these new selves do develop expanded mental and physical capabilities, but it seems like there's some sort of inextricable connection between the cl ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
The central concept is thought-provoking and unsettling, and the character design for the clones is uniquely terrifying (they look like giant fetuses. it never stops being weird). But what will stick with me most about "Upgrade Soul" is the characters. There's a specificity and richness to even the minor characters that's rare in sci-fi comics. The attention to character development and the gradual building of visual motifs gives "Upgrade Soul" a slow-and-steady rhythm that's hypnotizing, until ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
An uncanny tale about aging, scientific hubris, and ableism. Equal parts Never Let Me Go, Cocoon, and Flowers for Algernon, Upgrade Soul is both horrifying and touching. It’s also a difficult book to talk about in much detail without spoiling its many surprise revelations.

Like a lot of other posthuman science-fiction, Upgrade Soul is a morality tale warning us that even the kindest, wisest, and smartest of us might do nearly anything to have a shot at being better, longer-lived versions of ours
Kayla (onthefritz)
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An older couple volunteers for an experimental procedure, one that is promised to genetically purify the body’s contaminants to produce an upgraded self, one with higher potential. This procedure isn't all it seemed to be, and unfortunately goes wrong.

My mind is simply blown. This comic is what science fiction is all about. It surprised me, made me question things, and provoked all types of emotions. This story sucked me in and had me captivated the entire time. If you like sci-fi, this is a mu
Liz Yerby
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I feel needy cause I know a complex comics story takes so much work, but this book really settled that need and told a complex story with a large cast of characters. Lots of complicated science and morality but it was a very enjoyable and engrossing read.
Michelle Morrell
A tale of aging and self, science and society. And who doesn't love science gone bad? ...more
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Startling and haunting and left me feeling nauseous but hopeful.
Katey Moore
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel, 2019
What...did I just read?

This was one of those stories that will stay with me for a few days. I was not emotionally prepared for this journey.
Titus Bird
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Upgrade Soul is a dark, unsettling, philosophical science fiction comic in the vein of the television series Black Mirror. Like most of Black Mirror, it explores the philosophical, social and psychological implications of a fantastical but not completely implausible technological innovation in a world that otherwise resembles our own. Like much of Black Mirror, the whole comic is full of tension, claustrophobia and subtle horror. Like the very best of Black Mirror, it's thought-provoking and emo ...more
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Ezra Claytan Daniels is a writer and illustrator based in Los Angeles, CA. His work has been featured at the Fantoche International Animation Festival in Baden, Switzerland; the Fumetto International Comics Festival in Lucerne, Haarlem Stripdagen in the Netherlands; and the Whitney Museum. His graphic novel, Upgrade Soul, was the recipient of the 2017 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics, ...more

Other books in the series

Upgrade Soul (2 books)
  • Upgrade Soul Vol. 1
  • Upgrade Soul Vol. 2

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