Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup. This week, we have a couple number ones from two of the best publishers of creator-owned and original works. Unfortunately, they’re only at a 50% success rate this time, with one good start, and one big miss.
Pretty Violent #1
(w) Derek Hunter, Jason Young (a) Derek Hunter
What if I Hate Fairyland lacked the humor, charm, or likeable characters that made it a hit? You get Pretty Violent, the latest attempt to juxtapose cartoonish visuals with a story for mature audiences. While Derek Hunter’s artwork captures the manic energy of a classic Saturday morning cartoon, it does not overcome the tiresome story he has cooked up with co-writer Jason Young.
Following the adventures of cleverly named Gamma Rae, Hunter and Young’s script follows her attempts to be a hero by killing everyone in path, either intentionally or by accident. Most of the deaths are horrifically violent, with wayward citizens being dismembered and used as weapons. While drawn in a cartoonish aesthetic, the amount of blood and guts is so grotesque that it is off-putting.
Despite its best attempts, Pretty Violent #1 is a big miss. Every joke falls flat, the characters have no redeeming qualities, and the last page twist lacks oomph as it’s telegraphed throughout the issue. While the artwork is interesting, by the time the final page arrives it has overstayed its welcome.
Dark Horse Comics
(w) Carlos Giffoni (a) Juan Doe
From the tearjerker file comes Strayed #1 by Carlos Giffoni and Juan Doe. While the premise is vaguely familiar – a domestic pet experimented on for use by a shady government organization – the execution by the creative team makes for an emotionally affecting and engaging story.
Having been scientifically “gifted” the ability to project his astral form across space, Lou the Cat is tasked with finding inhabitable planets for humanity to colonize, with Dr. Kiara Rodriguez being the only being willing to see him as more than just an asset. Despite almost absurd concepts and futuristic setting, Gioffoni and Doe do a great job in fleshing out this word and making readers buy into it. Upon an initial read through, the only thing that really came across as unbelievable was humanity’s ability to make a cat obey commands.
Giffoni’s script does a great job in establishing the story’s main characters, allowing readers to quickly form an attachment to them. While the issue only paints the overarching story in broad strokes, there is room for the creative team to make some bold commentary on current day affairs while keeping the story engaging.
Juan Doe’s artwork is magnificent. While his characters do look a bit wonky at times, his eye for space and setting construction is wonderful. Each world, though briefly glimpsed at, looks unique. The use of oranges, yellows, and reds throughout gives the book a warm but otherworldly feel. The result is a sense of uneasiness that keeps readers on edge, eagerly anticipating what happens next. Though imperfect, Strayed #1 deserves to be adopted.