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American Virgin: Head

Alan Moore has a lot to answer for. His classic run on Swamp Thing in the 1980s begat the so-called British invasion which in turn led to the establishment of the Vertigo imprint. Success breeds success and creative risk taking, once unleashed, led to a torrent of titles by DC, that most mainstream of publishers, that eschewed traditional cape and tights protagonists.

Just as Sandman undoubtedly inspired Fables I feel confident that American Virgin, by writer Steven T. Seagle and artist Becky Cloonan (a team I'm unfamilliar with), owes a lot to Y: The Last Man. They share a similar mix of the tragic and the darkly, absurdly comic, not to mention a main character reluctant to get laid, despite worldly temptation on every panel.

American Virgin is a bit rough around the edges, both in the writing and in the art. After the opening sequence - a speech by Adam (A: the First Man?) on the merits of chastity - Seagle seems to want to pack as much plot into four issues as possible, including death, decapitation, a trip to Africa, betrayal, hallucinations and murder. Consequently, story and character beats don't really have a chance to breathe, and we don't feel the impact of some of the dramatic events as deeply as I think we could have.

Cloonan's art comes across like mix of Mike Allred by way of Michael Gaydos. Or perhaps a more awkward Paul Pope. Adam is initially drawn in bold, clean lines appropriate to his genital cleanliness is next to Godliness attitude, but, as things turn, is rendered in rougher, primal scratches.

American Virgin, despite the preponderance of protuberances, is actually more about faith than sex. All that Adam thought he knew - about his God, his girlfriend, his morality and the ways of the world in which he lives - is thrown up for grabs. I wonder if his journey will be a simple fall from grace, or if it will be more nuanced? The opening four-issue arc didn't quite work for me, but the premise is interesting enough that I'll keep an eye on the title to see how that question is answered.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 11, 2006 9:04 AM.

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