- Posted by Johanna on November 21, 2006 at 8:39 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Brian Wood; art by Kristian Donaldson
- PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing; $17.99 US
Brian Wood brings us another story of an individual in a near-future city caught up in mechanisms larger than they are. This time, instead of the media (Channel Zero) or war and the media (DMZ), the power being fought is consumer culture and the privilege of the rich.
Pella is the only daughter of two former members of crime families: her dad was a Yazuka and mom, a Porno Swede. (Yeah. It makes for good graphics, though, with tall blondes wearing skimpy white outfits, and Donaldson’s art is such that it’s less exploitive and more disturbing, since he draws their ribs.) She’s very wealthy, but it’s ok, because she’s concerned about not exploiting the world. She spends a lot of her time feeling holier-than-thou while working at a convenience store. When her folks are suddenly murdered, Pella is abruptly introduced to their past and goes on the run.
With only the one book (originally four issues), Pella is less a character and more an object. First we sympathize with her, thrown into a near-unimaginable situation and not knowing what to do, but she never has to address the situation directly, since a magical figure with an answer for everything shows up and starts dragging her around. Her parents have left computer programs to explain events and give her money and try to change the world, so Pella doesn’t actually do much but drive fast and crazy to temporarily get away from the folks she winds up captured by anyway.
Oh, and she donates a few drops of blood, since there’s some hoo-hah about her genetic blend being the key to an unimaginable fortune. For a book that seemed to me to want to make points about the disconnect of the privileged, it’s a bit odd that Pella inherits, through no virtue other than her DNA, so much money and power. I guess it’s ok that we root for this particular blonde heiress, because she’s concerned about the rainforest and converts her car to run on electricity instead of oil.
Given the mixed and abbreviated message, the reason to read this comic is the gorgeous art, especially the stunning coloring. Donaldson does an amazing job creating a claustrophobic urban world that’s just one step beyond ours. The predominant colors are deep pink, orange, and turquoise, but instead of seeming retro or Easter eggy, the feel is that of neon at night, attractive and disturbing all at once.
The sexiest scene in the book is when Pella winds up hiding out at one of the most expensive hotels in the city. (Must be nice to go on the run with room service.) She’s naked, showering, but it’s not about looking at her body or “ooh, boobies!” Instead, the seduction is the feeling of being clean and surrounded by luxury. It’s a beautiful book to stare at.