Writers/Artists: Joshua and Jonathan Luna
Publisher: Image Comics
Girls is a series that I've dipped into a couple of times but have never followed closely. It's been about a year since I last picked up an issue, but on reading the latest instalment I get a feeling that not a huge amount has changed: those deranged naked girls are still on the loose, seducing the male inhabitants of Pennystown and killing the females. Without a recap page (although the map on the first page serves a similar purpose in a slightly more abstract way), it's difficult for new or infrequent readers to get up to speed on the details of the story, but the plot is simple enough that it's not too hard for the uninitiated to get to grips with the more basic aspects of the book pretty quickly.
The most original element of Girls is probably the book's artwork. Jonathan Luna's finishes bring a feel to the visuals which is reminiscent of animation cels, with flat, simple figures set against murkier, more blurred backgrounds, and Joshua has a knack for staging and framing images which feels fairly cinematic. This innocently charming style is an interesting choice considering the violent and often horrific tone of the series, but it makes some of the more fantastical, extreme concepts (such as the giant sperm-monster) a little easier to accept. The way in which the book's sinister sensibilities clash with the more cartoonish stylings of the art makes the whole thing feel faintly amusing, even when dealing with murder, death and dismemberment, but there's a definite atmosphere of darkness which continues to underpin the book despite its looks.
There's a tongue-in-cheek, B-movie appeal to be found in Girls' concept, but the Luna brothers seem to have loftier aspirations for their story, too: the book's themes deal with the battle of the sexes, the raw animal nature of human sexuality, and its capacity to overthrow reason even in high-minded individuals. The way in which these ideas express themselves through a simple story about a small-town which is under siege from nubile alien (?) girls isn't particularly sophisticated or artful, but the base nature of the emotions involved makes it easy to relate to the characters - even when events seem to have progressed to an all-out war between the male and female characters in the book. However, quite a lot of the detail necessary to understand the plot machinations of this issue seems to rely on previous knowledge of the character conflicts between the residents of Pennystown, so it wasn't always clear for me, and the book's cliffhanger doesn't have much resonance for anyone who isn't "up" on the series so far.
With only a few issues to go (Girls ends with #24), this book probably was never going to be geared towards attracting new readers at this late stage, but anyone who hasn't followed the title this far would definitely do well to check out the first couple of collected editions before trying to catch up with the monthly issues. I can't honestly say that the book feels like it's progressed since issue #10 or #11 when I last picked it up, but regular readers may feel otherwise, as they'll have a better handle on the web of relationships between the inhabitants of Pennystown than me. Girls is a reliable read, especially if you're into books that are geared towards horror and violence with an element of mystery thrown in, but many may feel that there just isn't enough substance to the book to keep them hooked.
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