Saturday, May 10, 2003

American Virgin #3 Review

You know, three issues in, and I seriously have no idea what Steven T. Seagle has got planned with this comic. In fact, if I HAD to make a guess, I am afraid I would have to make a very cynical guess, and it would be that it seems like Seagle is planning/hoping that this comic lasts a long while, so he is in no particular hurry to move things along.

Instead, we get this introductory arc, which revolves around the fairly novel idea of a famous young proponent of abstinence, whose girlfriend, the woman he made a pledge to God to be the only woman he'd ever be with sexually, is decapitated while working with the Peace Corps in Africa. Adam Chamberlain decides to travel to Africa himself, along with this nutty step-sister, Cyndi. Once there, they deal with a mercenary who helps them on Adam's quest for justice and also for a sense of understanding - WHY has this happened?

Two things stood out in this issue to me.

The first? The art by Becky Cloonan and Jim Rugg (buy Street Angel!). Although the cover by Quitely is pretty bland, actually.

The second? The relationship between Adam and Cyndi. It is engrossing, and by far (to me) the most interesting part of the book. When we pick up, Adam and Cyndi do not exactly have the closest of relationships, but when his girlfriend is killed, Adam's demeanor is rattled - he is no longer the confident proponent of the word of God, and seeing HIM rattled seems to have more of a visceral effect upon CYNDI! Suddenly, now that he NEEDS someone, she suddenly has all these feelings to want to help protect Adam. However, she's not quite used to dealing with said feelings, and she's TERRIBLE at actually expressing them (her dialogue is hilarious, as she tries...and fails miserably...and cursing and taking the lord's name in vain). It is tremendous character work by Seagle.

The rest of the story, though, I dunno...I guess I have to have some faith in Seagle that he is taking this story somewhere, but it just doesn't give off that vibe that this is all under control and leading somewhere. I think, perhaps, if this issue and last had progressed the plot a bit more, I would not have this suspicions, but as it is, the plot if progressing quite slowly.

Part of it, I think, is that it is extremely unclear how some of the THEMES in the comic tie in. It is one thing for various plot points to appear unclear, as that is just a matter of time, but when the THEMES do not seem to relate, that's where a real problem occurs. To wit, a sizable portion of the comic deals with Adam's sexual feelings and his attempts to deal with the idea of what does he do if the ONE woman for him is DEAD? THAT make sense. But ANOTHER sizable portion of the comic deals with Adam getting vengeance for the death of his girlfriend (actually, she's his fiancee, I think, sorry about that). And that, well, that I don't see how it ties into the concept of "American Virgin."

The guys a proponent of virginity, not "not getting revenge."

However, the interactions of the character are rich enough, and the art is awesome enough that I think I can safely recommend this comic, even if I have grave misgivings about how Seagle will manage to tie these themes together.

Recommended, with reservations.

Read the Review


Blogger Peter Hensel said...

I don't really see a need for connection between a stroy's themes. American Virgin, in particular, has SO much work done to characterize Adam that his absolute mentality (I was ONLY going to sleep with that girl cause I loved her so much) would demand some vengeance. The first couple issues had nothing to dow ith revenge, and just seems to be a stepping stone in the character of Adam, because even though his stance on revenge isn't made clear to teh readers, through inordinate amounts of literature the point is made clear of revenge's insubstantialness.

Just a thought, but I wouldn't drag American Virgin down that much just because a couple of the themes don't match. My major problem with American Virgin so far is the amount of intensive work being done with Adam as a character instead of any focused message or purpose emerging from the work, making the reading seem less relevant, but that's a problem easily rectified after characters and situations have been established.

5/10/2006 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"Just a thought, but I wouldn't drag American Virgin down that much just because a couple of the themes don't match."


That's why I still recommend it!

5/10/2006 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Hensel said...

well played

5/10/2006 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger ninjawookie said...

Theres something about going to the desert in any story that always makes me just want to switch off, it's like when Batman goes to the desert to fight Ra's al Ghul, someone always manages to lose a shirt or a cape and I just don't care anymore.

But I watched all of jarhead and enjoyed that, so i guess i can read the rest of this.

The most interesting aspect of this book I find is his family, but there were only 2 members in this issue.

5/11/2006 12:09:00 PM  
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