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American Virgin #9

Posted: Monday, December 4, 2006
By: Martijn Form



Writer: Steven T. Seagle
Artists: Becky Cloonan (p), Ryan Kelly (i), Brian Miller (colors)

Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo


Plot: Our holier-than-thou boy Adam finally gets face to face with the killer of his fiancť.

Comments: So you comic lovers of flying men in tights called superheroes! You want something different? And I mean something completely different? Ha ha. Well, American Virgin is as off beat as off beat can be.

I bought the first trade Head and found it very entertaining. Adam is a Christian virgin and a bit of a celebrity as he tours the country with his book advocating celebacy. He is Mother Teresa as a young cool college boy riding a BMX.

A strange premise, right?

But it gets stranger. His true love is killed on a job somewhere in Africa, and Adam, the devout Christian boy, seeks revenge.

This issue is Part 5 of the second story arc, and it touches on a lot of controversial issues. I have been following Steven T Seagle ever since his work on The House of Secrets, also from Vertigo. And more recently I enjoyed his great graphic novel Itís a Bird, which is so good, it's a "must buy," even if you dislike Superman, like me. I can imagine the look on the editorís face when Seagle pitched American Virgin, but I have to hand it to Vertigo for sticking their necks out again.

Seagle is handling the subject matter as a pro. The way he portrays Adam as a Christian and a virgin is done with great excellence. Iím not a religious man myself, but the strong motivation that Seagle is giving Adam feels completely reasonable. The whole theme of this book is morals and values. As a reader, you bring along you own set and to see how this interacts with the story is very intriguing. I have a different standard than Adam by which I mean I view the world differently, but I can still relate to his decisions. He is having a hard time being a "true" Christian when his girl gets decapitated, of course a major tragedy for any human being.

Seagle plays with the readers' expectations by sending us into the gay community; refreshing for a comic book. Some real pros and cons are thrown in our faces, and as readers, we have to deal with this. Seagle is more a philosopher than a plot writer which makes this book more literature and definitely a mature read. And like most literature, the pace is fairly slow, but the characters make this book completely mesmerizing.

Joshua Middleton is provding some nice covers for this series. This one for issue #9 is very dreamlike and mostly pink. Although this cover is a beauty, donít judge this book by it because Becky Cloonan handles the gritty part of this story very well. I really like her art; Itís raw with harsh expressions. Never sweet. This girl can draw with the best of them and is on my list of top three favourite female artists. She makes her characters strong and ready for the real world with the help of inker Ryan Kelly. She already made a great impression on me with the series Demo, but that was black and white. Her art is even better in the hands of colorist Brian Miller who makes every page coherent and remarkable. I have said it before: a colorist can make or break a book. There are several Marvel titles that I can think of where the colorist is f@#@ing up the story. A good colorist knows his moods and understands the story on every level. Itís a team effort that makes a good book excellent and not just the writer or artist. Remember that the next time you read a book.

So when you want to read an off beat story, an art house comic so to speak, pick up the American Virgin trades... or be a real super-hero and collect the monthlies.



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