Karma City #1 and #2

    Writer/Artist/Colorist: Pierre-Yves Gabrion

    Anything pursued to it’s strictest form can lose it’s peaceful origins. This is what happens in Karma City, where a ying yang sign is placed over a border wall check point, and a young woman with good karma is almost prevented from entering the city because her bad karma’s one notch over.

    The real reason she shouldn’t have been allowed in will jump out at at readers later, but because the guard lets her go, Kate Cooper’s first case as chief-in-training at the Bureau of Investigations is to look into Emma List’s death.

    There’s a consistency in the personalities of Gabrion’s characters, and the way they carry themselves, that’s accomplished, but also treads close to familiar types. You know Napoli’s full of himself by the way he wears his Bureau uniform, and while Kate can seem insistent on figuring her case out right away, she’s prepared to look for answers when they’re not given.

    Deciding who characters are is a work in progress. Is Kate defending herself when she turns on her coworkers, or too easily rattled? Is Napoli acknowledging her condescending, or a sign that he won’t be a jerk for jerk’s sake? There are also some questions about karma, the philosophy where you put others first, that need answering. The way rape is defined is this society is moved past too fast, and secular theocracy is quite the oxymoron.

    Both issues end abruptly. If issue two hadn’t picked up where issue one stopped I would’ve thought I was missing pages. Karma City is a comic that’s still on the fence but the tense world introduced by the artwork has the potential to blow up, with special recognition to Eve Deluze’s lettering, which callbacks to a classic, retro style in what’s more of a future “utopia.”

    Writing: 3

    Art: 4.5

    ~ Rating: 3.8 ~

    Jerome K. Jerome Bloche: The Recluse

    Writer/Artist: Dodier

    Colorist: Cerise

    This is my first Jerome K. Jerome Bloche book, so I don’t know how he landed such a great name, but any private eye who has a Humphrey Bogart poster in his office has good taste.

    At the same time, Jerome is nothing like Bogart’s Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. Sweet and absentminded, he has the coat and the hat, but none of the disillusionment. This volume is an interesting entry in the series because, while there is a mystery, there isn’t a case. Jerome gets hired to deliver a letter to a man who lives in an evacuated town. The client, who asked that the letter be sent, is dead.

    It’s not so much a traditional mystery then, but learning the story behind this letter, and we learn this story, not through Jerome asking questions, but as a natural process of reading the book, which splits between Jerome and his girlfriend, Babette, in the present, and an unknown narrator in the past.

    Other books have done coinciding stories before, but Cerise’s coloring enhances the structure so that the panels in the present are color, and the ones in the past are selective. A car might be red or yellow but everything else will take the same, neutral hue. When the narrator mentions his heart, “started beating normally again…,” the colors rise ever so slightly. Very little happens in this particular section but it’s suspect for being uneventful.

    Dodier knows how to channel anxiety from mountain goats, and his panels, where you aren’t in the same room as the people who are talking, are scintillating.  You’ll be outside and the dialogue bubbles will appear at the window, or you’ll be with the person in the next room, who can hear what’s being said, and the mood for noir quickens. Jerome may be the most lovable PI but The Recluse never loses the trimmings of a hardened detective genre.

    Writing: 4.5

    Art: 4.5

    ~ Rating: 4.5 ~

    Rachel Bellwoar
    Fueled by Coca Cola ICEEs, Rachel Bellwoar collects TV seasons, reads comics, and tries to put her enthusiasm into words. She also shares the same initials (and first name) as Emmy winner, Rachel Bloom. If that brings her one step closer to being a triceratops in a ballet (please watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), she'll take it. Contact: rachel.bellwoar@thatsnotcurrent.com

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