Writers/Artists: Joshua and Jonathan Luna
Publisher: Image Comics
This is the final issue of Girls, a book which has seen the Luna bros. weave a mysterious tale which splices the genres of science fiction, horror, and soap opera to create a distinctive story about a race of naked alien girls who threaten the small community of Pennystown by attacking the females, seducing the menfolk and multiplying rapidly. Whilst much of the book's appeal has been driven by its ongoing mysteries, the Luna bros. are careful not to answer any of their fans' questions too comprehensively with this slightly longer final issue, preferring to concentrate on a final, satisfying battle royale between the villagers and the titular females, and a resolution of many of the series' ongoing relationship subplots. If you're looking for the story of Girls to be spelt out for you here, you might be disappointed, but loyal followers of the book will probably appreciate the focus on the characters, with just enough hints about the nature of the Girls to satisfy those who are looking for some kind of answer.
Even after getting used to their style over the course of many issues, I still find myself ambivalent about the brothers' artwork. On one hand, it's a very distinctive approach, which revels in its elegant simplicity to depict scenes of horrific violence and terror in a cold, clean and unfussy manner which often makes the events of the book seem even more stark and scary. It's also very good at conveying some of the big sci-fi ideas of the series (the spherical wall around Pennystown, the eeriness of the giant sperm) and never makes the storytelling any more complicated than necessary. On the other hand, the visuals often seem fairly unsophisticated and flat, and the lack of expressiveness in the characters undermines the scenes of the book which should be emotional high points. In the same way that all of characters on The Simpsons share common characteristics (the wide round eyes, the overbite), the vast majority of the Luna bros.' characters are derived from the same basic model, and since their approach is more realistic and grounded than that of a cartoon, it's harder to make the various inhabitants of Pennystown appear distinctive or interesting - occasionally even making it hard to distinguish one character from another. Many of the pages look the same, and the lack of anything exciting in the murky backgrounds can make the panels appear sparse and empty. Still, they've got a knack for composition and lighting which makes the book feel very cinematic, and many of the series' covers have been very attractive and visually interesting pieces of artwork.
Girls has dealt with some interesting themes: gender politics, sexual attitudes and double-standards, the conflict between human morality and our animal nature, and the fear of the unknown. The final issue also manages to carry some fairly interesting subtexts, most notably in a final coda which muses on the violence of creation and the destruction which is necessary for life to exist. However, in all honesty, there's not enough here to elevate the book much beyond a standard pulp horror/sci fi comic, albeit one which will probably be easy to enjoy for fans of the genre. Seeing as I haven't been an avid follower of the book, it's quite possible that I've missed some of the nuances of the Luna bros. larger story, and I'm sure I won't appreciate this final as much as a longtime fan. 38 pages of story for $2.99 isn't bad value for money, and I'm sure those readers who have eagerly awaited this conclusion won't be disappointed. However, newcomers might do better to check out some of the earlier collected editions of the book if they want to know whether it's for them.
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