The internet can be a dark and nasty place...
Lovesick #1 (w/a: Luana Vecchio)
Publisher: Image Comics
I almost didn't write about this one because I was having a hard time organizing my thoughts. This book is weirdly powerful in a lot of different ways. First, much like Piskor's Red Room, it takes a look at a (possibly) dramatized idea of these dark corners of the internet and the horrible things people say or do there. While I'll leave the validity of "red rooms" up to those more familiar with the Dark Web than I, I have seen first hand the disgusting things people can say online when protected by a wall of anonymity. In books like this, it's always the realness of the chatrooms that hits me. I admit to feeling a bit triggered at first in a "wow, they're gonna really GO there" kinda-way, but it's worth it. What seems like shock for shock's sake is an important call out. If you've never experienced some of the more hate-filled corners of the internet space, it might be easy to write off the things said in the chat windows of these books as over-the-top or unrealistic, but it's really not. It's time we start making these communities, these hate-filled men the true villains of the story. Much in the way the She-Hulk made the more misogynistic side of Marvel fandom the literal villains of her series, so too do these books shine a light on these dark, vitriolic communities. Sure, it's no secret that the internet is full of shitty people, but too often I feel it just gets written off as "trolls" and not taken as seriously as it should. Our art and media should reflect that reality, that danger.
This book also takes a wild look at consent as a concept. CAN consent have a dark side? What happens if you consent to too much and lose yourself along the way? Whose responsibility is it to dial you back? In this book we have men gleefully signing up to be victims of torture and murder. They want their final moments to be broadcast to an audience of thousands. They consent to this fully and are given what they ask for. We know little about the process at the moment, but it's assumed that there are lists and rules. I think there is an incredible analysis here both of the nature of social media and how it relates to things like violence and suicide, namely the idea that people will do incredible things for so called "clout," but also the idea of consent as a weapon wielded by a group of women. I won't get too involved in picking this analysis apart here (though I'm tempted to do a deeper dive if I'm being honest), but there is something to be said about the shift in power dynamic of women demanding consent from men to perform horrible acts, whereas the inverse in our real world often finds consent ignored, dissected, or discarded.
Finally, I think the character of Domino is absolutely fascinating and refreshingly unique. In the back pages of the book, Vecchio discusses her early concepts and sketches for the character. She mentions that a friend of hers once asked why the character always looks so sad. It's that morose quality that fascinates me. Often characters in these spheres, either that of BDSM communities or of the darker and deadlier internet side, exist as one of two tropes: the repressed and rage-filled animal or the playful, lusty controller. Domino holds more of a somber quality. She seems to want to do what she's doing, and certainly seems to enjoy it, but her focus seems to be more on the emotions and results of the action than the action itself. In a way, I liken her to more of a Pinhead character than that of a lingerie-clad slasher. She seeks to give something back to those she performs her work on. She also seems to want something in return, and I am excited to watch Vecchio perform a deep analysis on this character.
Sara Lone #1 (w: Erik Arnoux, a: David Morancho)
Publisher: Sumerian Comics
A story of mobs, murder and mystery. Joy Carruthers, whose stage name is Sara Lone, is called back to Texas from New Orleans with the death of her father, who was found gruesomely murdered on a beach. This kicks off a series of events that finds Joy in the crosshairs of the mob, manipulated by a shady federal agent, and wrapped up in a potentially cursed treasure. This book has a lot going for it, from a very nostalgic (at times old-fashioned) serial feel to a very pleasant art style. It's a hefty, text forward book and is definitely worth checking out for noir fans out there. Sure, at times it relies a bit too heavily on themes of it's period, basically turning every male character into a manipulative piece of crap, but I'm interested to see if going forward the creators let Joy shine as a strong, driven female lead. They've laid the foundation for an eventual rise above the misogyny, but we don't see it happen in book one. Still, this was a fun read, and there are a whole bunch of threads happening that will be fun to see conclude.
Damn Them All #1 (w: Simon Spurrier; a: Charlie Adlard)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Well then - I guess Si didn't feel like he was done with Constantine, either. Remember how mad I was when it ended, and I wanted more? Remember when I complained because it was basically my favorite book and I felt we just didn't get enough and that only Spurrier truly understood how to write that grumpy bloke the right way? I'm getting the vibe he felt similarly.
This has all that tasty, foul-mouthed, magic-doer goodness, but gives us a female "protag" (heavy air-quotes there, for now anyway) in Ellie, who works for a bunch of mobsters and has about the same level of self deprecation that big John C. always had. It's all that spicy UK underworld stuff mixed with demonic underworld stuff and I'm just so excited this book is happening I'm not really sure what to do with myself. If this book could last forever? I'd be down. If they wanted to give it a TV show? Even-bloody-better.
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