Graphic Novel Review Bites
When I started watching Battlestar Galactica, I did not expect to fall in love with Tricia Helfer. But when I saw the look on her face after she unwittingly killed an infant, I knew she was far, far more than a pretty face, and she has continued to prove that in every Pinocchio role she has made me cry through since. The look is exactly what Jenny Frisson captures on the cover of this trade, ensuring that I would pick it up without question. Frisson’s subsequent covers for each of the six issues were no less powerful and emotionally expressive — not that I expected any less from Frisson.
Unfortunately, the story and art on the inside don’t quite live up to the covers. This is meant as a prequel to the series, where the Cylon known as Six doesn’t know that she’s the Cylon known as Six. It begins with her as part of a mining team that undergoes violence and tragedy of which she is the only survivor, though her memories of the event are gone. Instead, she seems to be reliving other lives — and other deaths.
The Sixes were created as the archetype of love and sex, but Helfer revealed early on that Caprica Six in particular is also capable of incredible brutality, as well as beautiful sensitivity, which is epitomized in that scene of Six in the crowd with the baby.
But the book doesn’t really give me the latter, nor does it really connect the woman we read about here, with the seductress who is ready to destroy humanity for the mysterious plan that the Cylons are formulating. As one of my favourite characters from one of my favourite series, I definitely wanted more from this book over all, but was disappointed in the reality.
“And if there’s one thing I’ve learned the past 18 years, it’s that assistants run the world…”
But Velvet Templeton is not your ordinary secretary to the head of a top secret agency. She’s got her own dark past that comes to light when she’s framed for the murder of some of the agency’s top operatives. And it comes as a surprise to the people trying to hunt her down as she tries to clear her name and solve the crime.
Brubaker’s noir and spy game thrillers are almost always a hit with me in some way. Though the eras that he focuses on tend to mean that the female characters have to deal with sexism and misogyny, he writes those women well, and Velvet is no exception. She’s a Strong Female CharacterTM not because she can kick ass (she totally can) but because, after 18 years out of the service, she’s still discovering her own flaws and weaknesses and, as she finds out more about the murders, the truths that she believed in when she was younger start to fall apart.
We’ve seen this kind of mystery thriller before. but Brubaker is usually very good at adding just the right twist. In this case, he saves this for the end of the volume, leaving a cliffhanger that makes me demand more.
This is a grotesquely beautiful book, more so when you read the foreword and learn about Liu’s inspiration and see how she has translated the monstrosity of war into this story.
Maika is more than just a slave, and she is more than the psychic bond that links her to the monster inside her, but in order to understand her past, present and future, she must put together several pieces surrounding her mother’s archaeological discovery, all while fighting to save herself and others from those who hate and would use and abuse arcanics like herself.
The title of the book speaks of the monster that dwells inside of this girl, but, through the story and art, the monster inside all of us and the ugliness that is often masked by beauty is revealed. It is a harsh story of great pain and loss, but Maika’s strength and the loyalty of companions who would stand by her when that strength fails her seed the book with a powerful sense of hope, despite the darkness. A fitting read, given the times we currently live in…