By Christian Holub
July 21, 2020 at 12:19 PM EDT

There may not be any in-person Comic-Con this summer, but Amazon Studios’ upcoming drama Utopia (based on the 2013 British series of the same name) could help to fill the void. At the center of the story is a fictional comic book called Utopia, the long-awaited sequel to the popular Dystopia. Ian (Dan Byrd), Becky (Ashleigh LaThrop), Samantha (Jessica Rothe), and Wilson Wilson (Desmin Borges) are all nerds who bonded online by analyzing the first book, discovering hidden meanings within its pages. When the follow-up is unearthed, they decide to convene at a convention to check it out — and soon find themselves pursued by violent assassins attempting to stop anyone from reading the story.

To survive against a group of trained killers, these nerds need help, which arrives in the form of Jessica Hyde (Sasha Lane), the protagonist of the very comic-book series they’re so obsessed with. But Jessica is, in fact, a real person who just wants to save her missing father and believes Utopia may hold the key.

Elizabeth Morris/Amazon Studios

“For Jessica this is not just a comic, it’s real life,” Lane says. “It’s what she’s been running from and towards. She’s trying to save her dad from it, and she’ll use whoever she can to get to him.”

But there’s more to this adventure than just a top secret comic. As the nerds pursue Utopia, viewers will also be introduced to Dr. Kevin Christie (John Cusack), a billionaire philanthropist who might be connected to a new disease being studied by Dr. Michael Stearns (Rainn Wilson). The addition of Cusack’s “billionaire-as-celebrity” character is one of several changes showrunner — and EW alumGillian Flynn (Sharp Objects) made to the original series, along with infusing the plot with a deeper focus on government conspiracies.

“How do I make this new?” Flynn says she asked herself. “I’m a huge fan of all those conspiracy thrillers that came out after Watergate. All of [the British Utopia] plays very sleekly. I wanted mine to play bumpy, dirty, raw, real—like you’re walking on the gum on the sidewalk and smelling the garbage in the alley.”

Utopia premieres on Amazon Prime this fall. Until then, check out first look images above and below, and tune in for the virtual Utopia Comic-Con panel (moderated by this EW reporter) on Thursday at 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET.

Elizabeth Morris/Amazon Studios
Elizabeth Morris/Amazon Studios

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