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American Virgin #18

Posted: Tuesday, September 4, 2007
By: Martijn Form



Writer: Steven T Seagle
Artist: Ryan Kelly

Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Plot: Part 4 of the five issue story arc “Around the World.”

Comments: (Caution: this review contains mature content!)

Adam and Vanessa are still travelling the world, although the story arc has focused more on their destination than their actual travelling. Leaving Thailand behind them, they arrive in India, where they get a tour of a religious Hindu temple.
Adam: “They must pray to a different god here. Porno from the dark ages.”

The temple’s statues show every Kama Sutra move there is. Although Adam is a die hard Christian; he tries his best to understand other cultures and their different views of sexuality. This profound series presents Adam in a state of turmoil as his view of the world keeps changing. Steve T. Seagle created a character that I don’t particularity like or can identify with, but I do find intriguing.

There is true development in Adam’s character, even if his physical appearance remains unchanged. He still wears his “Save Yourself” T-shirt, his message to retain one’s virginity until marriage.
Vanessa: “If this is embarrassing you, we can go.”
Adam: “It’s cool. Besides, I’m getting ideas!”

A year ago that kind of dialogue would never have happened. Adam wasn’t open to other ways of thinking.

Vanessa and Adam are getting along real well. They have already kissed, and Adam can talk about sex more openly. So far I have been enjoying the character of Vanessa very much, and I do hope that she and Adam can stick together. She is a lovely girl who knows what she wants and how to get it without being a bitch. No, she is adorable. A minor thing—or maybe a major one—is that Seagle made Vanessa an African-American, a fact that will further open up Adam’s white-western way of thinking.

If this summary makes American Virgin sound like a soap opera, it’s not. It’s philosophical reading that explores the different aspects of human sexual behaviour with some lovely twists and turns.

For instance, when Adam’s sister is on his phone, she tries to tell him that she loves Mel. Adam raves about love being all that one needs and that it’s more than wonderful. But when he blabbers like that, he doesn’t notice that Cindy tries to tell her brother that her Mel isn’t a man, but a dressed up woman. Let’s see how Adam will handle that situation. HA!

Maybe the words of their guide will help him in future issues:
Guide: “Forbidden love is still love. And in all of India, in all of the world… the most beautiful thing is not a temple, nor a bride, it is love.”

For this issue regular inker Ryan Kelly handles all the art chores. Regular artist Becky Cloonan has a unique style, which creates a big part of the book’s mood. Kelly emulates Cloonan’s style perfectly without being a copy cat and adds his own style into the panels. This isn’t a fill in artist doing an issue; Ryan Kelly has heart and soul for this project.

Let me give you one piece of advice about American Virgin: Read it slowly and steady, keep your good eye on the art and the other one on the dialogue, and don’t forget to set your brain into a higher gear to read between the lines.

I think Charles Bukowski would have loved American Virgin.

For more information about this reviewer, go to www.martijnform.com



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