The Beauty #1
Jeremy Haun, aided by Jason A. Hurley on story, has come up with a doozy of a premise. There’s a sexually transmitted disease that makes its victims beautiful — skinny, clear-skinned, and glowing — so people want to catch it. I was intrigued by the kinds of stories that could be told with this idea, pieces about how relationships were changed or how society reacted. Unfortunately, what the creators do with this outstanding starting point winds up pedestrian and typical.
Of course, there’s a side effect to this weird illness. The Beauty can kill you. A woman with it is found dead on the subway, and two detectives are called in to investigate. The guy’s our protagonist, and his partner, a woman, also has the disease, although she didn’t want it.
The biggest problem, for me, is that Haun’s art doesn’t allow me to identify the Beauty’s victims visually. I’m told these characters are more attractive than the people around them, but if the text didn’t pick them out, I wouldn’t have known, since many of his faces and bodies are similar.
For example, the first issue cliffhanger (spoilers, since the series is up to issue #5) revolves around our protagonist catching the STD, and the final panel is him looking at a mirror in shock. Only he doesn’t look any different from before, artistically. That’s rather a problem.
(He got it from his wife. We’re told in issue #2 that he didn’t notice her appearance had changed because she always looked gorgeous to him. Which is sweet and sappy, until you stop to think about it, and then you realize that this unobservant guy is supposed to be a detective? This was the part that reminded me most of The Surrogates.)
As the series continues, it focuses on how there’s an evil conspiracy between government officials and big business. There’s a cure, but they don’t want to release it so they can instead sell maintenance drugs and make a lot of money. They don’t care if people die along the way. The detectives have to find the cure and infiltrate various locations while getting shot at a lot, since the evil conspiracy needs to take them out for knowing the truth. This is the part I found way too familiar and mediocre; the story could have had any inciting incident and be told the same way. It’s a shame. The idea was so neat, but so little unique was done with it. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)