August 27, 2018

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She Could Fly | Mid Series Review & Reflections


Written by Christopher Cantwell
Line Art by Martin Morazzo
Color Art by Miroslav Mrva
Letters by Clem Robins
Published by Dark Horse

She Could Fly, one of a handful of Berger Books published by Dark Horse, has become a book who momentarily has my complete attention as I plan for my next trip to the shop empting my slot in the subscription box. I picked up the first issue on a whim. It was the last copy on the shelf one Wednesday, and I typically reserve those coincidences as fate leaving room for my justification as I add it to my purchase. Needless to say, these moments of impulse purchases happen far more than I would otherwise admit given me in a social situation that requires my character to firmly remain with as much willpower as I can describe. In this case, there was none. Issue two was safely in the subscription box along with all my others, patiently awaiting my arrival though I was anything but its calm benefactor. The third issue in a painfully short four-issue miniseries could not come soon enough. September 12th, get here faster!

For starters, let's discuss plot. This is a story that begins its narrative with a woman flying in the sky, and a young high school sophomore, Luna, cannot seem to remove her from her thoughts. On the first page of this story, we see everyone looking at the mysterious woman in the sky, but the only eyes that we see are Luna's. All others are witnessing the exaggerated levitation act above the city through sunglasses and cell phones. A simple nod toward modern human nature to view things through a filter and a screen. Writer, Christopher Cantwell, has a way with words as he tells this story about a young girl and her obsessions that take her on paths that lead to mental and emotional destruction.


At the risk of spoiling certain occurrences within the comic, I'll simply say that when something happens to the woman in the sky we find Luna, our overtly interested but subtly sadistic main character, start to unravel at the seams. This tragic affair happens quite quickly into the first issue and only intensifies the manic episodes that are the cause of what seems to be a version of mental illness that is described as Primarily Obsessed OCD. These episodes explode into a seemingly inward mental breakdown often accompanied by self-mutilation and intentional violent behavior toward loves ones. Repeated words and phrases are used in panels for what seems could be flashback explanations illustrated to give insight now as to what happened in the past to explain what is coming.

Surrounding Luna, there is a cast of other characters to keep the momentum of the dense story moving. Her parents, as well as her "Gamma" and school psychiatrist make momentary visits to the narrative, but it is the mysterious man with the mustache that brings the most inquisition to what is just ahead in Cantwell's story. This man, Bill, seems to be connected somehow to the woman in the sky and at this halfway point in the series, we have yet to know beyond a modest theory as to how.

Again, I won't spoil too much of the many details that come with studying the nuances happening with every page of this comic, but I will give a strong foundation. This may come to what may be a large tool to navigate your way through figuring out the connection between certain characters on your own. So, you're welcome and decipher accordingly. Moving right along and getting to the point, may I point your attention to a specific background prop used once in each of the first two issues. Issue one shows Luna on a couch while in a session with the psychiatrist and we see a blanket resembling an empty crossword puzzle behind her; surrounding her. Again we see a similar textile, but this time in the possession of Bill, and it is used to carry some personal items of his needing concealed. Intentional coincidence? I'm sure we'll get back to that.



This story is jagged, it is sporadic and all over the place. There is no question that the pace of this book was intended by Cantwell being that the subject he decided to take on has the driving force of a rabid bull. He does an amazing job so far telling this story of a fictional character sharing what he describes in his Letter To The Reader section in issue 1, to be personal connection and history to the mental illness that his character, Luna, has. 

The artwork in this book is paired perfectly to the haunting subject told. Readers will probably recognize the pencil style from another daunting ongoing comic, Ice Cream Man. Martin Morazzo has a technique of creating characters that just seem to beg to be put in their worst nightmare. Something about the lines and the expressions that bring out the voice written on the page that make your spine shiver and your palms sweat. I'm not sure if a different illustrator could have drawn this story and achieved the same level of intensity that the narrative demands.


What is the significance of telling such a tragic and harmful story? Why do we desire to be entertained by such pain and anguish? Should comics such as this one even be read given its personal and transparently tragic nature? Short answer: yes. To overcome personal demons and momentary episodes of self-doubt or insignificant thought you must also consider, and appreciate, the other types of mental illness that people suffer. Their journey through their struggles could achieve someone else's victory in a battle that seems too strange or far-reaching. This story is obviously a way for Cantwell to express his biggest fears, a way for him to challenge his strangest thoughts, and a unique platform in comics to explore the uncomfortable feelings that have been haunting him for most of his life.

Dark Horse has brought us one killer of a mini-series with Christopher Cantwell and Martin Morazzo's She Could Fly. From the very first panel this story hits you up side the face with brutal honesty and terrifying dialogue. It isn't until the end of the first issue that you learn that the story is more autobiographical in nature than it would otherwise seem. You will find yourself dancing back and forth, panel to panel, experiencing firsthand how it feels to be a young person unable to understand dysfunctional emotions. We as the reader are only 2 issues into this story, but at its literal halfway point I see only more terrorizing and tragic moments for our characters. It almost doesn't seem that it will end well. So many loose ends with only a few dozen pages left to tell the rest of this dreadfully exciting and sad but resurrecting story.

Gamma: "What's wrong?"
Luna: "I hate myself. I really do. I HATE myself."
Gamma: "I have good news. There *is* no you."

Good luck Cantwell & Co. I'll be first in line.