Saturday, February 14, 2009

American Virgin Volume 1: Head

American Virgin Volume 1: Head (Steven T. Seagle, Becky Cloonan) - I had resisted picking this title up for a long time. No good reasons for doing so, but I am glad I decided to pick it up now, at least. I have no great method for my impulse buying. I walk into the shop and pick up my pulls, I check the new releases and pick up things that intrigued me from previews or titles/covers that leap out at me, and then I kind of wander the store trying to think of anything I have really been obsessing over, or anything I get that jumping out at me vibe about again. Depending on the amount of cash I have in my pocket, or if I am on a shopping binge for some reason, maybe I grab something else... sometimes a lot of somethings, sometimes just One. Volume 1 of American Virgin just happened to be the thing today. The nice part is that it is economically priced at just 10 bucks! (That's another factor sometimes)

I realize that this first arc is just 4 issues long, but regardless, Ten bucks is still a nice price for a trade, and you get some gorgeous cover illustrations, three by Frank Quitely, and one by Joshua Middleton, as well as a nice bit of cute stuff at the back of the book. The 'extra stuff' is funny, but not earth shattering, but still fills out the book nicely.

The writing is pretty great so far. I don't begrudge people taking their swipes at religion, but this one, so far... isn't as completely one sided as some things, and it is too early for me to know exactly where things are going. The good thing is that no matter where it goes, it started with a character, Adam, who truly believes, and truly has faith. He is surrounded by a world that is going to come up short based on his expectations, but he stays true to his faith (not saying his view is right or wrong, just that he believes strongly, and sticks to it).

Adam is an industry. He is surrounded by some bad people, some normal people, and some good people who wear their flaws and weaknesses on the outside. He is a 21 year old virgin who has been made into a cash cow for his mother who is the matriarch of a big-evangelism(big-virginity at least) empire, and herself the stereotype of the harsh and greedy religion mogul. Adam's thing is virginity, and he has made it publicly clear that there is only one person in the world he will be having sex with, and it was ordained by God. In Adam's world, he truly believes what he espouses, and he truly believes that Cassie is the girl for him, and that she feels the same way about saving themselves for each other.

Adam's world is rocked for the first time when word comes that Cassie was killed by terrorists in Africa where she was serving in the Peace Corps.

That is where Adam's journey really begins. Will he stay true to himself? Will he keep his faith, even as more and more of the foundation of his world is smashed away? His first step is to go to Africa to retrieve the remains of his beloved. He does this with the help of his stepsister Cyndi and a mercenary named Mel. Both are great characters. I absolutely adore Cyndi. She is a contrast to Adam, but maybe not really so different than it first seems. I am anxious to see where this goes, and will be picking up additional volumes when I can.

Becky Cloonan did the art and Jim Rugg did inks on issues three and four. I really love her style. If I were the sort of person who can remember anything, I would be naming three or four other current artists and saying that there is almost a 'School' of this style. Her work is great, though, and the characters are expressive. There's a lot of female nudity in this, so if you are boob-phobic... you may want to get over that and read it anyway. It isn't for kids, but I doubt anyone will ever mistake it for a kids book in the first place.


John said...

It's kind of a shame that American Virgin was cancelled after only 23 issues. I won't spoil the ending for you, but it wraps up in a way you wouldn't exactly expect (partly because the last arc was never meant to be the final arc.)

As far as the price goes, Vertigo has a very clever marketing strategy: Just about every series' first volume is priced at $9.99 or less in order to get you hooked. I think the only major exception to this is The Invisibles, which is too big of a book to make that cost-effective. I'm pretty sure books like Fables, Y: The Last Man, The Exterminators, The Losers, Preacher and Transmetropolitan have "gateway" Volume 1s.

Talkin Bout Comics said...

It's a brilliant strategy. That is a shame about the series, but I look forward to catching up on it.