BEAUTY-PLUTONA

BEAUTY/PLUTONA
Written by Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley and Drawn by Jeremy Haun
Written by Jeff Lemire and Drawn by Emi Lenox
Published by Image Comics

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Two new terrific debuts to take a look at…

As the year begins to take its final lap and we start building best-of lists, I suspect that THE BEAUTY #1 will make more than a few. I know it’s going to make mine.

What a concept!

TheBeauty01

Two years ago, a new sexually transmitted disease called “The Beauty” appeared, and this one has starling side effects: it physically changes its victims, getting rid of fat, baldness, wrinkles, bad skin, the whole nine yards. Essentially it delivers physical perfection, and the only side effect is the running of a constant fever. As you might imagine, many people went out and got the disease on purpose, while many others have rebelled against this unnatural change. There is division within society over it… and that’s just the setup.

Here in issue one, we meet a pair of detectives assigned to what initially is reported as a bombing, but turns out to be much more. What has happened involves The Beauty, and to tell you more would be a disservice. Just rest assured that it involves action, terrorism, and a highly unfortunate moment for both of our cops.

Great science fiction always tells us about our current society, and THE BEAUTY definitely does just that. It brings up issues of body image, sexual choice, fears about the modern terrorist state, and does so in interesting and unique ways. The scripting by Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley is tight, the dialogue rings with truth, and Haun’s art is quite lovely, telling the story in an effective and impactful way. As soon as I finished reading it, I went right back and read it again, because I immediately wanted more and that was the best I could do at the time. I give this book my highest recommendation.

Sometimes it’s an unusual creative pairing that catches your eye, and that’s the case with PLUTONA #1, which is written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Emi Lenox. Lemire has been spreading his wings quite a bit as a writer over the last few years, so it’s no surprise to see his name top-lining a new release. But we haven’t seen a whole lot from the always terrific Lenox lately, so it’s is a happy thing to see her at the artistic helm of a new creator-owned work.

It doesn’t hurt that’s it’s rather good, either.

plutona-1cover

The book opens up with a quick page of mystery before diving in to what looks to be our primary cast: four young kids with wildly varying family backgrounds who are somewhat friendly with one another. One day after school, their paths intersect, and in the process they discover something in the woods involving the superheroine known as Plutona.

More mystery follows.

Rich in characters – Lemire’s dialogue sounds like he recorded it on a playground – and gorgeously drawn, PLUTONA gets off to a strong start, whetting the reader’s appetite and making them want more.


HILO THE BOY WHO CRASHED TO EARTH

HILO: THE BOY WHO CRASHED TO EARTH VOL.1

Written and Drawn by Judd Winick

Published by Random House

Reviewed by Marc Mason

For quite some time now, every time I walk past the “B” section of my graphic novels, I have stopped at BARRY WEEN and wondered “Where did that guy go?” Not Barry, mind you, but his creator, Judd Winick.

hilo

Of course, Winick hasn’t exactly been in hiding. He’s had quite a prolific comics output over the last decade. But those comics have mostly lacked what made stuff like BARRY WEEN and FRUMPY THE CLOWN so phenomenally great. His DC stuff never felt like it had the joy that permeated his creator-owned work. I haven’t seen that Judd Winick in a while.

But then I cracked open HILO: THE BOY WHO CRASHED TO EARTH and damn there he is. The writer and artist of BARRY WEEN is back… and his new young adult graphic novel series gets off to an absolutely brilliant start.

D.J. is a young boy struggling with finding his identity, even amongst his own family. One of five kids, he feels as though each of his siblings has at least one extraordinary gift, while he (in his eyes) has not even one. Thus his self-image is that of being dull.

Everything changes when Hilo comes crashing out of the sky. Clad only in a pair of silver underpants that he likes way too much and missing his memory, Hilo latches onto D.J. quickly, patterning himself after his new friend. Together, they work to piece together who Hilo actually is and where he comes from, aided by D.J.’s long lost friend Gina.

What they learn would be a massive spoiler, so all I will tell you is that Hilo has some unusual talents, and that the trio runs into some nasty robots along the way.

I was sucked into HILO from page one. The characters are charming, the dialogue is witty and emotional, the action and plotting are terrific, and Winick’s art is as good as it has ever been. This book is a pure delight from cover to cover, perfect for young readers, yet also a tasty morsel for grown-ups looking for spirited fun.

Indeed, HILO ranks up there among the best work Winick has ever done, including PEDRO AND ME. It’s nice to see this Judd Winick again; I can’t wait to have book two in my hands.