As we close upon the fourth week of the new year I find myself marveling at the power of beginnings; people make resolutions to be a little less shitty, cower at their powerlessness in the face of taxation, and find the muse to start, finish, or release projects. Beginnings affect us acutely.
The observation stands for beginnings of stories, as well. A comic's premiere issue has the potential to be incredibly exciting; it can establish the series' setting, the protagonist's attributes and flaws, and ultimately grip you into wanting more. Not only can issue #1 accomplish these goals, but in order for the series to thrive, it needs to. Netherlands-based R-Comics releases its first title, Seduction #1, this month with an unfortunate lack of success in this regard.
The opening works. Seduction gets underway by immediately catching my attention and piquing my interest; a busty woman clad in green is chased down by wonderfully designed robots and quickly vaporized, her nubile flesh disintegrated into a skeletal frame. Sex appeal, robots, and ultra violence: we are off to a good start. It is practically all downhill from here, however, as the page turns and the reader is assaulted by the same woman awaking from her nightmare on a glaring couch colored with digital red gradients. The gradients are used in the border and, inconsistently, the speech balloons with a negative impact on the comic's overall aesthetic.
The next four pages of this 22 page issue meekly establish our heroine and her home turf; through Sara's narration we learn the city is called San Sebastian and it becomes a little seedy at night, but is usually a pretty place. The setting is otherwise disappointingly undeveloped. Some paltry character development follows where Sara leaves a $1000 tip for her manga-eyed waitress to prove to herself she "can do fine on her own." Her abundant wealth equating to a statement of independence is lost on me, however. The reader is not given enough information on this character to understand why she has to prove her individuality. The confounding character development is coupled with equally jarring art where hard lines are juxtaposed by soft textures and detailed elements are overshadowed by abstract shapes, culminating in a messy visual difficult to appreciate.
How the Hell does one make a $1000 tip out of three bills, anyway?
After slogging through that, the protagonist returns home and we meet her lingerie-clad girlfriend, Madison, with some narration about her parents' homophobia. That's fine. The two women inexplicably look identical, resulting in frustrating confusion for the reader that could have been easily remedied by a simple palette swap. Additionally, the anatomy of the characters is poorly executed. Consider the painfully aberrant length of the left woman's leg:
The identical appearance of the women results in a confusing page transition, disrupting the flow as the reader is left guessing who he or she is supposed to be viewing. As seen in the last panel, the woman in teal kisses the woman in pink, who is sitting on the bed, goodbye. The following page and panels shows a woman in teal underwear sitting on the same bed in the same position, making me wonder if the colorist forgot who he was rendering, and if I am looking at Madison or Sara.
I guess she wears her underwear in the shower?
Seduction continues to my favorite part of the pilot: a brawl between the protagonist and an assailant in her shower. I am fond of absurdly unrestrained action scenes; the more odd and over-the-top, the better. A flying kick to a secret agent's sternum delivered by a topless heroine? Priceless. I'm confounded by the authors' choice to sensor her breasts with steam, however; what is this supposed to accomplish? Who is this supposed to appeal to? A reader who is fine with lesbians cuddling in lingerie, face-breaking violence, and skeletal disintegration, but too conservative for soft core nudity? A capricious choice at best, especially with a title as provocative as Seduction.
I actually really like the use of pink here.
Beginnings are powerful forces in our lives and our literature. Although Seduction may be off to an incredibly flawed start, there may be potential for an action packed dystopian robot war story if the folks over at R-Comics evaluate their premiere with an extremely critical eye. Unfortunately, my ambivalent optimism may just be the result of lingering new year positivity, so try not to get your hopes too high.
Seduction can be found at IndyPlanet.
Ryan Anderson shapes malleable young minds as a tutor in Seattle. When not committing that dubious act, he can be found overcome by the abundance of comics out there catalyzing thought and evoking emotion. He wants to make sure you read those comics, too. Pithier reviews, devoid of any real gravitas or credibility, can be found on Twitter at @TheRyanReview.