What is Cyberpunk 2077: Big City Dreams?
Two scavengers veer paths in their pursuit of happiness through the streets of Night City.
Tasha and Mirek make a living for themselves stealing cyberware and indulging in parties and braindances. Tasha is rowdy and wild–she seeks to up her street cred to become the most famous gangster in the city. Mirek, on the other hand, is a calm introvert–he longs for something more–meaning, belonging, warmth. He soon finds hope in an unexpected braindance. As he and Tasha chase their dreams, their paths begin to deviate. Where will they find the happiness they’ve been searching for? Does it even exist to be found? One thing they can both agree on, in a place like Night City–you run, you fight, you change, or you die.
Written by Bartosz Sztybor (CD PROJEKT RED writer and narrative manager, Witcher: Fading Memories)) with art by Filipe Andrade (Old Man Logan, Rocket Raccoon & Groot) and Alessio Fioriniello (Paris Fashion Slam) comes a tale about the demanding life of Night City–where lives are lost, dreams are shattered, and hope is found in what remains.
I’m a big fan of the Cyberpunk 2077 comics by Dark Horse comics. I’ve been starved for cyberpunk content for the past decade and Cyberpunk 2077 only slightly scratched that itch. It’s a marriage made in heaven, or Night City at least, because Dark Horse is one of the few companies that I feel can really capture that dark and gritty attitude as well as the artwork style necessary to bring to life the dystopian futures that I love to read about. I haven’t been 100% blown away by the comics at times but I’ve never not gotten my money’s worth either.
The premise for Big City Dreams is that Tasha and Mirek are a pair of wannabe Edgerunners that are just a pair of hoodlums. Tasha fires her gun randomly at whoever catches her fancy and Mirek supports her despite the fact, well, he’s not psychotically violent. All this changes when Mirek finds himself trying out a brain dance (virtual reality for non-Cyberpunk 2077 fans) and experiences the life of a loving father as well as husband on a farm outside of Night City.
The premise is a simple one, but I actually give props to the writers for coming up with something that I didn’t really expect to see in a comic like this. It’s a theme that resonates with the video game’s central one and its characters: do you want a quiet life or to die in the blaze of glory? This is a question asked repeatedly of V (the video game’s protagonist) and the ending of the game reflects whether he or she believes one or the other is their destiny.
I’m not sure Tasha is smart enough to realize she’s going to die or that anyone else matters enough to make the choice but it’s clear what she’d choose. She believes she’s a burgeoning Night City legend who will kill her way to the top despite the fact she’s manifestly incompetent as well as a murder hobo. Mirek, by contrast, is stunned at the possibility of a quiet life even existing. He wants to experience the life of a quiet farmer and family man away from violence as well as death. However, the moment he shares his “vision” with Tasha, he’s resoundingly mocked.
I like this story more than I thought I would because it strikes me as the kind of tale that the vast majority of the mooks encountered in the video game (and tabletop RPG for that matter) would have. Tasha doesn’t have the education, temperament, or skills to reach her goals, but she’s got a sociopathic unearned pride that tells her killing random chooms on the street will somehow make her famous. Mirek doesn’t have any other friends or loved ones (I’m not sure if Tasha is his girlfriend or not), so he’s just willing to go along with it.
I also like that while Mirek romanticizes the life of the countryside, the book doesn’t shy away from the fact it’s every bit the kind of illusion that Night City sells to wannabes like Tasha. Our first encounter with the farmer in “reality” is that his wife is miserable living on the farm and the quiet life does not suit her in the slightest. She wants to live in Night City and maybe she would be happy there or maybe it’s just a case of there being nowhere truly “happy” in Mike Pondsmith’s Earth.