February 3, 2009

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Life Sucks

Written/Illustrated by Jessica Abel, Gabe Soria, and Warren Pleece
First Second

I really enjoyed La Perdida, Abel's book of a woman's misadventures in Mexico as she tries to be something she's not. So imagine my surprise when I read this graphic novel, which seems to cover the same idea, but comes to a very different (and, I think, flawed) conclusion.

Dave Miller is a low-level vampire stuck in a Clerks-like job. He crushes hard on a goth-chick named Rosa, but lacks the ability to woo her until he's challenged by Wes, another member of the undead, but one who deals with the idea better. Dave refuses to kill and drinks stale blood-bank blood. Wes revels in his status, using his vampiric powers to bolster his life and reputation.

Soon, both Dave and Wes must decide who gets Rosa, and enter into a rather demeaning contest in relation to Rosa, once you stop to think about it. There's quite a bit of angsting by Dave both before and after this contest, but never fear, because in the end, boy gets girl--and his vampiric mojo to boot.

This is one of those books where the story would have been fine if it had just ended about twenty pages sooner, not unlike Paris. Because it does not, however, we are left with an ending that is not only unsatisfactory, it requires a Deus ex Vampira to succeed. (I suppose that's mildly better than a Deus ex Batina, but I'll leave that up to you to decide.) There is nothing in the actions of the characters that leads me to think this happy turn of events is the way it would have turned out had the writers followed the logical conclusion, namely that Dave can't survive in this world he's been created into. (Even if you argue that he opts to change his ways, the problem is that I can't see him being helped to that change by those who do it. Apologies on the vagueness of the specifics, but to say more would seriously ruin the plot.)

In other words, we start with Clerks and get a Clerks-like story via a Julia Roberts movie.

The story itself is alright, but it tries to be too clever by half and is marred by poor coloring (I had no idea, for example, that Dave was white, because he's colored the same as Rosa.). The idea that old-school vampires are aging capitalists who get together to play poker feels too strained of an idea (hey look, they're just like the former Communist Bloc states!). Vampires getting drunk on blood beer? I guess. But really, goth parties? Have we not had enough comicss related to goths and vampires by now?

There's also another bone I want to pick, namely Rosa's reaction to the fact that her Goth boyfriend may be gay and/or bisexual. She is totally repulsed, and we're supposed to find that funny. Well, I don't. This is a book that highlights outcasts, but apparently, that doesn't include sexual orientation. Apparently, it's okay to be goth chic, but only if you're a happy hetero.

I don't know if this was a case of having too many people involved, or if it's just mediocre story that came from a good writer, but this one just wasn't for me.