Saturday, December 10, 2011

Talking Trades: Girls by the Luna Brothers

There’s no two ways about it- Girls by Joshua and Jonathan Luna is a very strange book. It’s not a book everyone is going to like, but stories that leave me scratching my head wondering what on earth I just read really appeal to me. Girls is the second offering from the always excellent Luna Brothers. If you’ve read their first book Ultra or their latest offering, The Sword, you’ll know what you’re in for- a clever, multilayered epic full of jaw dropping final pages and moments that will hit you like a sledgehammer wrapped inside a cement truck.

Ethan Daniels has never been particularly good with women, and living in the tiny village of Pennystown doesn’t help. When he bumps into a beautiful, mysterious (and somewhat naked) girl, Ethan can’t believe his luck. He takes the mystery woman home and she offers herself to him. How can sexually frustrated Ethan refuse? But his liaison with the girl only takes a serious turn for the worse when the girl lays eggs that hatch clones of herself that only want to kill all the women of Pennystown and mate with men, threatening the whole town. The girls are amazing villains. They look innocent enough, until blood and guts ensue. There’s a real sense of menace to them that’s just plain creepy. The fact that they are clones give them a faceless quality and this detachedness makes them even scarier.

The other characters are all well-developed as well. Some you like, some you hate, but at some stage they all do something that is either foolish, stupid, vindictive or just plain crazy.
The Luna Brothers explore flawed humanity, and what people are capable of for good and for bad in a crisis situation. Some characters are a little stereotyped, some a little predictable, but they all play their part in the winding rollercoaster of a story. The intense battle of the sexes in the narrative serves to explore perceived gender roles and relationships in an often brutal manner. Sexuality is a strong theme throughout the story, both in terms of gender and relationship. Some of it is exploring raw humanity, but sometimes it’s just plain bizarre. For example, the girls feed women to a giant sperm. That’s right. A giant sperm. What’s that about?

Jonathan Luna’s art is simple and effective – no flashiness, just pure storytelling. Through his thin lines and simple features he manages to keep characters unique, which is important considering the size of the cast, which is quite large. If you’re into artists with clean, simple lines like Jamie McKelvie, you’ll dig this. The collected editions contain each of Jonathan’s covers as well, which are beautifully designed. Once again, not everyone’s going to like it (particularly fans of flashy artists like Bachallo) but the art tells the story, which is it’s primary function. I’m a fan.

The Lunas are masters of the single issue, and their last page jaw-droppers are always shocking. Having said that, the story reads better in trade format, because this 24 issue series is nearly impossible to put down. It’s a rollercoaster ride – you just don’t know where this story is going, so just hang on and enjoy the weird and wild ride.

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