- Posted by Johanna on July 6, 2006 at 4:15 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Steven T. Seagle; art by Becky Cloonan and Jim Rugg
- PUBLISHER: DC / Vertigo; $9.99 US
American Virgin ruins its potential when it becomes yet another revenge thriller and yet another DC comic where the hero is motivated by a dead girlfriend.
The first issue introduces Adam, a youthful minister who advertises his virginity as part of his nationwide purity crusade. He’s a three-dimensional character who seems to promise a sympathetic portrayal of a believer, rare in comics. I was looking forward to a thoughtful examination of some of the key issues American culture is currently struggling with: sex and religion.
Unfortunately, the story takes a different path. His sister brings him the news that his girlfriend, an aid worker in Africa, has been beheaded. Then the sister accompanies him on his mad flight to reclaim her body. He’s out for vengeance instead of coping with his loss in any rational fashion, hooking up with a shady guide and swinging his fists when he doesn’t get the answers he wants.
Cloonan’s art is as wonderfully stylized as always, with lots of emotion, but the characters surrounding Adam aren’t as well-rounded as he is. He’s got a harridan of a mother with big dreams for him and a girlfriend who’s nothing more than an object to motivate his crusade and then his quest. His brother is a druggie and his cousins foul-mouthed sex fiends. Those he encounters in Africa are plot points instead of characters.
The extremity of his journey seems geared to provide him an excuse to shake him out of his beliefs, but it has little to say to me. I would think the death, just before their wedding, of the woman he was saving himself for would be enough of a motivation, without the whole “heart of darkness/exotic native practices” exaggeration.