CURSE OF THE WERE-WOMAN

CURSE OF THE WERE-WOMAN
Written by Jason M. Burns, Illustrated by Christopher Provencher
Published by Devil’s Due Publishing

Meet Patrick Dalton, coveter of women and Exhibit A in the chauvinistic pig show room. Looking good and getting laid is what he does best, though he also donates some of his time to ladder climbing at the advertising agency he works for. Nothing pleases him more than pleasing himself and his lucky lady of the night, until one evening he bags a babe who decides to teach the randy Mr. Dalton a lesson.

The story premise obviously has been done before, and Burns follows the basic outline to a tee. Guy does bad things, guy is cursed by scorned woman in an ironic and fitting manner, guy is forced to endure the curse but ends up learning from his experience, finds his soul mate and becomes a better person, thus breaking the curse. Patrick is used to treating women as nighttime toys, so Tessa, jilted lover and practicing Wicca, curses him to become a woman every night when the sun sets. Due to his sudden case of evening-onset womanitis, Patrick spends his time with his new neighbor Amber doing girly things. Unsurprisingly, Patrick finds himself becoming emotionally attracted to his recent acquired gal pal, and as his eyes begin to open to the error of his past ways, he begins to fall in love with a woman who only knows him as a woman.

There is nothing about the plot which is unexpected, but that is not to say WERE-WOMAN isn’t entertaining and occasionally funny as hell. This is supposed to be a comedic comic book, and it succeeds at that. Several scenes Patrick/Patricia (woman version of Dalton) finds him/herself in are worth a few belly laughs (Patricia’s first experiences with a thong, stilettos and a tampon are my favorites), and there are more than a few winning one-liners sprinkled throughout the chapters. You can’t help but crack a grin after seeing the very first panel, which shows Patrick admiring himself in the mirror and his introductory words of “My name is Patrick Dalton and I am an alpha male.”

Laughs are certainly had, but there were several parts of the script which simply screamed it was written by a man. Just because Patrick turns into a woman at night, does he have to automatically have to notice the cute purse in the window and want to pick out pastel drapes? Having his testosterone replaced by estrogen doesn’t mean he can’t muster up the rage to get into a fight, and not all women are seduced by overpriced handbags and sip Cosmos when they get home. Overlooking these and a few other stereotypical scenes, this book can be read and appreciated by both genders.

The art is like the story: familiar and not too complicated, but well-crafted and enjoyable. Though the artist certainly doesn’t skimp on the cup sizes, Provencher delivers tasteful and realistically attractive women in this book. Coupled with Burns’ amusing spin on a standard story of lesson well learned, CURSE OF THE WERE-WOMAN is a fun read good for a hearty chuckle and more.

Avril Brown

SERPO

SERPO
Written by Jason M. Burns and Drawn by Joe Eisma
Published by
Devil’s Due

A few years ago, UFOlogists around the world were astonished by reports leaked by an anonymous man who claimed to have been part of an interplanetary cultural exchange program back in the 60s. According to the releases, 12 U.S. men and women were selected to travel to the Zeta Reticuli star system and live on a world called Serpo by its natives. Over a period of years they lived, ate, and culturally integrated themselves with the “Eben” (as they referred to them), developing a special bond with them, even defending them from enemies. But upon the group’s return to Earth, they discovered that what they thought would change the world would be buried, and their journey and the knowledge it brought would go for naught. Various websites discuss and debate the Serpo story and its authenticity; this graphic novel is a mostly direct adaptation of what the documents contained.

There’s an inherent danger to reading a work like SERPO, and it’s this: the debate about the truthfulness of the tale. Google your way around the word “Serpo” and you’ll see plenty of debate about whether it’s true or a hoax. But you have to put that stuff away when you approach this book: the only question you can ask is: is it a good graphic novel?

The answer is… complicated. No question, the effort by the creative team is there on the page. Jason M. Burns, master of the high concept, steps back and adapts someone else’s story for (I think) the first time, and he does a solid job of turning it into a narrative. However, that hampers him in one respect: it’s all based on a first person account by one member of the group. Because of that, the other human characters never really come to life on the page, except for the “angry, untrusting one,” who comes across as almost a stock character. The only other character who jumps off the page is the Eben interpreter who becomes the narrator’s friend and confidant in the years spent on Serpo.

Joe Eisma’s work here, though, is solid. His recent work with Burns on DUMMY’S GUIDE TO DANGER: LOST AT SEA was weak sauce- SERPO looks like it was drawn by a different artist.

I think the ultimate issue with SERPO is that it almost feels too much like a fiction story. So many things fall into place in tidy ways that it takes away your sense of alienation at being on another planet and within another culture. It’s good sci-fi- but something about it feels like it could have been great sci-fi.

Extras include copies of the original “documents” produced by the returned survivor and pin-ups.

Marc Mason