Every issue of Girls that I read reminds me of just how nasty people can be. It’s not just that people can have differences with each other, but more that the world of most comics books just doesn’t really exist. There just isn’t any such thing as nobility in people. Comics assume that heroes can be noble, but a comic like Girls reminds us of just the opposite, that even in the face of an alien invasion, people are really only out for themselves and their venal impulses.
Remember the last chapter of the classic graphic novel Watchmen? In that book, Ozymandius fakes an alien invasion of Earth in an attempt to bring humanity closer together. For a brief moment it works, but by the final pages, things start to fall apart. Or take the world’s reaction to the events of September 11th. For a brief moment everybody was united, but quickly unity spun away and now the world is more polarized than ever before.
Girls is the story of an alien invasion of a small town called Pennystown. Pennystown represents Anytown USA. It’s a small farming community where everything seems on the surface to be calm and peaceful. But as the invasion progresses, humanity’s venal nature comes to the surface, and we see how the invasion has really torn the town apart. People give in to their base instincts. As one character states, “Do you really think Kenny wants to hurt the women? Or his kids? Or anyone else? Do you think any of us want that? I mean… what I did to Wes… and my wife… -sigh- I never thought I was capable of… of hurting anyone – especially Ruby – but something in me just… I don’t know. I – I couldn’t… stop myself. How could she love me, after that? How could she trust me? How can I trust myself?”
The invasion is a true signal from above, but it’s one that exposes the real and polarizing differences between the genders and between races, even the differences between families. In its never-ending exploration of the worst instincts of humanity, this comic is a bleak and depressing work of comics art. But the Luna Brothers also present a thoughtful vision, well articulated and wonderfully drawn. The world they present is bleak, but these two creators do an outstanding job of creating it. Pennystown really feels like a bucolic town nearby, maybe the place where you go to buy pumpkins every fall, where something very evil lurks within the souls of the town’s residents.
Maybe the most ironic thing in this issue is the cover, which shows five women standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the same pose, ready to fight the town’s alien invaders. The cover implies unity and unanimity, two things that are completely lacking in this comic. It’s a clever, ironic cover, which sort of represents the image that the residents of this town would like to present to outsiders.
Girls is never really a fun comic book by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s very well written and drawn.