What’s love got to do with it? The delightfully explicit Lovestruck attempts to answer that and more. Lovestruck is a love letter for cynics packaged in a fun graphic novel. Cupid is delusional monster bent on manipulating the world’s affections for his own designs. Our protagonist Kali Monroe gets entangled within his schemes and suddenly finds herself imbued with supernatural powers.
This work is the second time Hopeless has worked with artist Kevin Mellon. Together, the creators have constructed a weird, whacked-out world that I was more than happy to inhabit. The interior artwork nicely informs the story, as Mellon’s aesthetic seems well suited to the subject matter. It’s appropriately gritty without going overboard and was at times reminiscent of hand-drawn zines rather than any sort of superhero comic. Plenty of awesome nudity reinforces the idea that this story is more about messy physical entanglements rather than an esoteric idea of courtly love.
The strength of Lovestruck is that Hopeless has created a strong main character. Kali is a sharp and sarcastic girl — despite all of her punk rock posturing, she is also entertaining and charming. More importantly, she is believable as the story unfolds. Her chatty banter helps position the story firmly into a slightly hysterical reality — while we may not have lived in this world, it’s not far removed from the one we are in now. When we first meet her she is in the back of a limousine, being driven somewhere for reasons unknown. We quickly learn that Kali is a rock n’ roll photographer that has been watched by some mysterious entity, and she quickly learns that she has the power to make people fall in love with each other and can fly by sprouting flaming wings at will.
Cupid has summoned her into his service, and revealed to be a naked, monstrously obese being wedged in a giant chair surrounded by countless computer screens. Assisted by his lackey Ovid, he’s interested in using love to leverage for money and power. Kali and others with similar powers are employed to use their powers to suit his needs.
Together, Kali and a team of woefully underdeveloped supporting characters get to work manipulating others by causing them to feel lust or passion. They facilitate corporate mergers and influence fashion. They incite orgies and illicit affairs. Kali’s powers have an amplifying effect on those of her team’s. They are able to achieve what they set out to do and have fun in the meanwhile.
Eventually, Kali is let in on another big reveal –- deities appearing to her as her own personal gods, The Ramones, are keen on replacing the jaded Cupid with a new demigod, none other than Kali herself. The gods claim that Cupid has corrupted love and must be put down. Surprisingly, Lovestruck misses the opportunity for a supernatural smackdown. What could have been a climactic battle between Kali and Cupid is reduced to banter, a few shots, and then a sort of reconciliation.
Overall, Lovestruck is an enjoyable read from a unique voice, though story does seem to lose some vibrancy towards the end. It seems like there was not enough resolution at the ends -– perhaps the creators are hoping for an opportunity to write a follow-up. I hope they revisit this strange world is revisited, and look forward to seeing what comes next.