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Speak of the Devil #2

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2007
By: Thom Young



Writer: Gilbert Hernandez
Artist: Gilbert Hernandez

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

In my review of Speak of the Devil #1, I wrote, “On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much to this initial chapter in the six-issue story.” Yet, despite that superficial appearance, there was a lot to the story. Similarly, not much seemed to happen in this latest issue either. What’s more, after my first reading, I wasn’t sure I could make the same claim of there actually being a lot more to this installment than what seems to be happening. However, upon further review...

The high school gymnast, Val, continues to wear black clothes and a devil mask to prowl around her neighborhood peeping through people’s windows at night. In particular, she is still focused on watching her young stepmother. Val first watches her stepmother make love to her husband (Val’s father) and later watches her masturbate after Val’s father has left town on business. When her stepmother sees her at the window, Val flees.

Believing her “Peeping Tom” to be a male, Val’s stepmother wants “him” to come back to watch her, or perhaps do even more. Meanwhile, after chasing after Val one night while she’s out peeping, some of the neighborhood boys have discovered that the Peeper is a girl.

With the references to lesbianism in the first issue, it seemed to me that Val was spying on her stepmother as part of a lesbian sexual fantasy—and that certainly seems to be part of it. However, Val seems to be bi-sexual since she also attempted to make out with a devout Christian boy in her bedroom. The boy fled, presumably because he is a devout Christian.

Later, Val peeps on the boy’s family and sees him being kicked out of the house by his father for being a “faggot.” Val takes off her devil costume and black clothes and attempts to comfort the kid, who walks away silently without really responding to her.

However, he later discovers Val is the peeper and starts making out with her after saying, “I understand now.”

Well, I’m glad he does, because I don’t. This series is obviously exploring sexual orientation and teenage confusion as hormones are kicking into gear—but there seems to be something more going on, something below the surface. Not much seems to be happening in each issue, and the story doesn’t seem to be progressing except at a snail’s pace.

Yet, I don’t have the sense that Gilbert Hernandez is telling a so-called “decompressed” story for the sake of filling up a collected edition of the series. The pacing creates a sense of verisimilitude, and there is the nagging feeling that there is an emotional action going on within the characters that belies the relative lack of physical action.

I’m riveted and can’t wait for the next issue, and that’s how a comic book (or any story) should make you feel.



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