Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Beauty, Volume 1 Review (Jeremy Haun, Jason A. Hurley)

Two years ago a sexually transmitted disease turned patients into physically perfect specimens - everyone who got the STD ended up looking beautiful. Today, half the planet willingly has the disease known as The Beauty and only now are the negative side effects emerging: the beautiful people are internally combusting! 

Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley’s new ongoing, The Beauty, has an unusual horror premise that turns into a pretty by-the-numbers crime/conspiracy thriller. I think it would’ve worked better as a standalone book, like a Twilight Zone-type story, told from the perspective of ordinary people dealing with the disease and its after-effects than following two cops who’re unravelling a gov’mint cover-up. As it is though, it’s not bad. 

You’ve got the standard crime story cliches: foot chases and gunfights, a stressed police chief who keeps a bottle of whiskey in his desk (unfortunately he doesn’t say stuff like “You’re outta line, Kowalski!” or “Do you have any idea how much damage you morons caused - the mayor’s gon’ have my ass!!” - that woulda been great!) and there’s an evil senator behind it all - boo, damn gov’mint, always up to somethin’ shady! 

Our main characters corner a key suspect who has valuable information but it’s early in the book so they can’t learn too much quickly, so he disappears instantly. But not before we get terrible cryptic dialogue from him first: “You don’t understand… I have to… Only way… Beauties… Just… Save them… Save us all… I just… Just trying… The beauties…” Good thing he couldn’t speak in complete sentences for no reason, right? Otherwise there’d be no mystery. Don’t see anything contrived about that... 

The dialogue in general isn’t that great throughout. “So what are we here for?” “The truth, Detective Foster. The truth.” - because that’s how people talk like in real life, guys. In real life. And how convenient is it that a character comes along and explains the whole situation in one lengthy info dump? Nothing more exciting than a tedious lecture in the middle of a story! 

The characters are a forgettable bunch but the crazy skull mask-wearing hitman Mr Calaveras was memorable even if he’s basically just the Joker. That’s fine, I’ll take it. Beats the extremely bland Male and Female Detective main characters. 

I suppose the message behind the series is about how the pursuit of physical perfection is self-destructive while also commenting on how shallow Western society is… Ironically, The Beauty is not a very deep read! Its concept may be original but what it has to say is not. 

The core premise wasn’t that compelling for me but it was engaging enough and Mr Calaveras hunting our protagonists was a fun time. I didn’t dislike the book though it’s still not that amazing a read. If you’re after a decent crime comic with an abstract horror twist, The Beauty is worth a look.

The Beauty, Volume 1

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