ETERNITY GIRL / DRY COUNTY / INFIDEL [Reviews]: Good Reading for Spring Cleaning!
Happy Sunday, geeks and geekettes! We’ve got that familiar warmth in the air to signal the coming of spring, and enough green puke stains on the streets outside our favorite bars to keep us from anticipating St. Patrick’s Day for another. But what else does spring mean? A slate of new titles for us to peruse! And below, some great writers take a look at some of the most recent, best titles to hit the stands!
Let’s see what’s going down this week:
I will admit to going into this book with unfairly high expectations. The Young Animal imprint has been my kind of weird turned up to an eleven since its inception. Magdalene Visaggio’s other work, like Quantum Teens Are Go, is so far outside the box that one can’t help but love it. However, what we got in this first issue of Eternity Girl is character exploration, with the weird creeping just on the periphery.
Caroline Sharp is an agent with the clandestine Alpha 13. It is hinted at that her abilities, to manipulate her intrinsic field, giving her vast transmutative powers, were given to her by this agency. Said powers also mutated Caroline. It takes every bit of will power to use her shape shifting abilities to maintain her prior human appearance in public. She also may or may not be speaking to a dead super villain, whose death Caroline is responsible for. Over the course of the story, we see that her career is in a tailspin, she is battling depression and very well may have committed suicide, if her powers didn’t involuntarily counteract her every attempt.
Visaggio really brought some deep emotion to Sharp’s character. She is despondent, but by the end of the first issue, anyone reading can clearly see why. The dialogue and pacing of the story were both solid. Although, none of the supporting characters have really made an impression, I figure that future issues may flesh them out.
Artist Sonny Liew makes this book feel at home in the Young Animal line. His unique expressiveness makes you feel for Caroline more and more as the story unfolds. While he does some heavy lifting art wise (considering this is a lot of talking heads for a single issue), it’s colorist Chris Chuckry who adds sizzle to this steak. Though the muted colors of the current story add to the isolation that Caroline feels, the flashbacks, where he and Liew go full Jack Kirby, make me excited to see more of Caroline in action. Now that the necessary world building has been done, I’m anxious to see this creative team on this book for the long haul. I daresay that Eternity Girl could be to DC what Alias/Jessica Jones is to Marvel. 4/5 Bibles.
I was completely unfamiliar with Rich Tommaso’s work prior to reading Dry County. Being influenced by crime and horror from the 1970s and 1980s is probably his most appealing attribute that makes some of his previous works such as She Wolf intriguing. The story of Dry County follows a gag cartoonist at the Miami Herald named Lou Rossi in the late 1980s. He hates his job, the dance club that just opened near his apartment, and his existence in general. His life is going nowhere when he meets a mysterious blonde woman named Janet at the Laundromat. His life suddenly has purpose because of Janet, but there’s always a catch in these types of situations.
The artwork is simple yet effective. Tomasso seems to channel this concoction of Family Circus, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and J.G. Quintel’s Regular Show in his artistic style and yet its jagged shading and basic color scheme makes Dry County read like a pulpy noir newspaper comic. The comic is written as if it was pulled directly from someone’s handwritten journal with a realism and believability that gives the reader the mindset that this could have happened to anybody. While you just scratch the surface of the mystery Dry County is likely to offer in future issues, there’s enough captivation to leave you wondering where Lou’s story goes from here and if that yellow Volkswagen full of chicks really wanted Lou’s ignorant friend Robert. 3/5 “Try not to barf” Bibles.
Image Comics’ Infidel #1 is a title right up my alley, having plenty of thematic similarities with peak Vertigo Hellblazer (particularly the “Fear Machine” story arc, and the best of Jamie Delano‘s works therein), but updating the gothic horror to a post-modern, post-9/11 cultural setting.
Aisha is a Muslim-American woman living with her step-daughter, boyfriend, and his mother in an as-yet-undisclosed city. The building in which they live has been mostly gutted and abandoned, having been the scene of some violence some time in the near past. Haunted by dreams of a deformed elderly man, as well as a myriad conflicting social pressures, Aisha begins to suspect that her home is haunted by something much more sinister than nightmares.
Editor-turned-writer Pornsak Pichetshote has a good sense of pacing, as this story has an overall feeling dread from the first panel, and doesn’t rely on gore or gratuitous violence or any of that material to ramp up tensions (in fact, the lack of any of that improves the impact of the issue’s sole splash page scare). While the characters are still taking a bit to get to know, there is enough of an understanding of who Aisha is as a person to care about her situation and in what she’s going through. Artists Aaron Campbell, and José Villarrubia, use a muted palette that invokes memories of peak Dave McKean, as well as the artistic stylings of Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth graphic novel. This is exactly the sort of baroque art I love, one that perfectly compliments the themes and tone of a story such as this.
This may just be added to my monthly pull list, as something that is not only topical, yet also well-written and stylishly drawn is worth following. This is yet another addition to the “social horror” genre that we’ve seen cropping up mainly in films, lately; happy to see it transition to comics! The idea that Aisha is haunted by the manifestation of fear and xenophobia itself is frightening enough, but the images it conjures leave lasting enough impressions. Come for the story, stay for the art, leave with the message. 4.25/5 Bibles.