When Words Travel

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Ah, greetings dear reader. Please, don’t be alarmed, I expected you. It’s inevitable, stories have a strong pull, and sooner or later a reader answers the call. I hope you can help me with a particular endeavour, your participation is of the utmost importance after all.

You see, I have a collection of fragments from various letters here, but no one has read them, yet. They need to be read, for it’s only once something has been read that it can leave its mark in the world. I hope that it will have an impact on you, dear reader and that you will influence the world based on what you have read.

Of course, you’re probably wondering who am I and why I’m asking you to do this. Well, I don’t want to be rude, but that isn’t important right now. Please, I only ask you to trust me and read till the end. This is crucial to me, and you will be doing me a huge favour. The kind that earns you an exceptional reward. Be patient, everything will be explained, I promise.

Now, enough chatting, here’s the first fragment:

My beloved Yvette, I have been trapped on this island full of rocks and ruins for three months now. I don’t know if these words will ever reach you, but writing them helps me stay sane. What started as a simple job for an archaeological dig has turned into a nightmare. The people that brought me to this forsaken place had no intention of using my expertise, they wanted something far more sinister: my blood. They call themselves the cult of Lithsot. They have kidnapped me alongside other people, believing that we are the descendants of some ancient sorcerer-priests. They say that in our blood lies the key to awakening the power that resides in these ruins.

Every day they extract a little bit of our blood so they can use it in their obscene practices. They keep trying the same rituals repeatedly with minor variations, but they always yield the same results: nothing. I’m sure that by now a good chunk of the island has tried my blood, and I fear that it has acquired a taste for it. You know that I’m not a superstitious person, but I must confess that the more time I spend on this strange island, the more convinced I am that something else resides here.

You see, my fellow captives and I, we have been experiencing weird dreams, to say the least. When we talked about it with each other, we realised to our surprise that there was a connection between them , as if we had been given different pieces of a single puzzle, and now we are trying to put the puzzle back together. We don’t know if it’s of any use, but doing something is better than doing nothing. We dare not tell our captors. Who knows what new torment those lunatics will devise for us if they find out?….”

Sorry for the interruption, dear reader, but I must say that it’s quite a fascinating tale don’t you think? Let your curiosity pull you. I’m sure that you have dozens of questions, who, when, where, why; well, don’t be hasty, all will be answered. The author of the letters finds itself in quite the predicament. Let’s see how it unfolds for now, but before that, I believe that we need to introduce a little bit of drama, something to spice things up. I have found a particular fragment that will be perfect for this. Don’t worry about the jump in the story, the sequence is there for a reason, and please pay attention, burn the words into your mind. As I said before, your help is paramount. Here’s the second fragment:

“…I keep thinking back to when we first met. How utterly clueless I was. They presented us to each other against our will. We stood there awkwardly, not knowing what to say. Then we chatted and laughed, and from there a beautiful friendship was born, which in time became love. I know what you must be thinking. How could it take so long for me to realize that I was in love with you?

The thing is that when you met me, I was a broken person, wearing a mask of joy. Melancholy had always been a part of me, nurtured from childhood by abandonment, betrayal, and failure. I have never been in love with anyone else before you. I have been in other relationships, yes, but they all felt tedious and shallow. When I broke with my last girlfriend, I accepted one simple truth: That I would never find love, that my fate was to be alone.

That’s why when we began our relationship I couldn’t see it turning into love because I didn’t believe in it, but you turned me into a believer. You took away my fears and insecurities, you gave me a perspective on life that I never thought possible, you saved me from myself. As I write these words, I can do nothing but hope that, if I’m not able to make it back, at least you will read these lines, and know that wherever I found myself, in this life or the other, I will always love you, Yevette, always…”  

I must confess; I can feel the intensity that the author put into those words. It even made me shed a tear. So much story there, so many things to tell. It has indeed given us a glimpse into its past life. He was a person with a frozen heart and no hope for companionship. Such a sad situation, a hopeless life is no way to live. Then this Yevette broke the barrier, let the sun shine over the authors’ icy exterior. Sorry again for the interruption, but I just had to comment on it. Moments like these carry a lot of power, and it’s better to savor them. They’re the kind that can make a huge impression on us, even ignite something special. Now let’s read the third fragment:

…We did it! Oh, thank the lord, I can’t believe that we actually did it. It has taken us many sleepless nights, but we have finally managed to piece together our dreams, and they form an astonishing story. According to what we have found, this island used to be a place where mighty men and women gathered to share stories. At first, we were shocked. How could something so simple create a place with so much power? But then we realized that what they were doing went far beyond mere storytelling.

The stories were not just tales from the past, they were also telling stories about things to come, things that could be, and things that should be. Their words carried so much strength that they shaped the world around them. Their wills made manifest by the power of their language. Narration dictating the very nature of reality. However, this power was not enough for them.

They sought to create an even more complex and elaborated language, but they lacked the knowledge. No matter how much they searched, or how hard they tried, they had reached the limits of the human mind. That was why one day they decided to use their ability to summon something not constrained by human limitations. The idea was to bring a being from another plane of existence that could teach them how to expand their minds, and after a long time, just when they were about to give up, something answered their call.

We cannot figure out if in the end, they created the being or if they brought it to our world, we only know that they were successful. After that, things become too chaotic to distinguish anything, the only thing we can agree to is that there was some kind of disaster that killed them all and destroyed the surface of the island. Whether this entity was involved or not it remains a mystery. The useful part is that we think we know how to harness the same power as these ancient masters. We have put together a ritual that should work. Yvette, I believe this is the key to our salvation, but I must also confess that its use scares me.

There are too many unknowns and dangers. This knowledge destroyed its previous users after all, but we are just too tired and desperate. The torment has become unbearable as the frustration of these madmen grows. I can’t wait anymore to see you, to hear your laughter, to feel your lips and your gentle touch. Wish me luck, my love, if everything goes well, we shall see each other soon…”

Fascinating, and terrifying. Nothing good can come with tampering with things not fully understood, especially in a state of desperation. A good explorer knows the value of preparation when delving into uncharted waters. However, we must not be too harsh in our judgment. We need to consider this: how can we hope to advance without taking chances? Without jumping into the unknown? You started reading this story without knowing what would happen, dear reader, and for that, you have my respect.

Anyway, we will see the consequences of those choices right now, and who knows? Maybe something good came out of them, or maybe not, that’s part of the thrill, isn’t it? Pay close attention, dear reader, for we have reached the final fragment of our story. This moment is always my favorite, the excitement before the great surprise. The curtain is about to be lifted. Let’s enjoy it together.

…Yevette, my love, I’m afraid to say that these will be my last words before I burn these letters. It kills me to know that you will never read this, but there’s no other way. We did it, my love, we managed to reawaken the power of the island with our words, right under the noses of our captors, or at least that was what we thought. In reality, like the fools we were, they had been manipulating us, they knew what we were doing all along.

They used our desperation against us. They knew about the dreams and pushed us to solve it. It doesn’t matter anymore, now we are all walking to our doom together. The thing is, they were as clueless as us when it came to what would happen after we finished the ritual, which in retrospect I would have found hilarious if it hadn’t caused such horrible results.

My memory is hazy, but I remember a lot of light, then screams, inhuman noises, and then the world went crazy. I ran as fast as I could while my surroundings changed into something more fit for an abstract painting. I used some of the knowledge I learned from the ancients to create a sanctuary inside an old tower. There, protected from the storm of madness that ravaged the island, I despaired. It was also there that I received a visit from the strange being, but not the way I imagined it.

Without realizing it, he had been communicating with me all along. It’s the words Yevette, it exists in words, spoken or written, in the real world or in dreams. That’s how he travels, how it gains power. That’s why I must burn these letters, and that’s why I must stay here. It’s also inside me, we use language when we think, and as long as there are words inside my mind he can live inside me.

If I ever contact someone else, it will spread, traveling from person to person, and if it makes its way into books, radio, television…I tremble thinking about it. I don’t know what it really wants, only that it must travel. I can hear it in my head calling me, it’s making me an offer. It tells me that I could see you again, but the price he asks for, it’s unthinkable, but perhaps I could…no I must not think about it…or maybe yes? I….”

And here, dear reader is where we must end this story. I’m sure that by know you have discovered the true nature of your friendly narrator. I’m the “thing” that came out as a result of the ritual, although I abhor that description. I may be different, yes, but I’m as much a person as you are, thank you very much. It’s just that there were a lot of misunderstandings. It takes me some time before I can find an appropriate channel to communicate with people, let alone have them understand me. No offence, but your three-dimensional minds are a bit limited.

Before we continue, please, I swear I mean you no harm whatsoever, at least directly. Consider me a mere passenger on your mind, or a tourist if you will. I’m in your mind right now, you can hear my voice, don’t try to deny it, and if you concentrate hard enough, you will be able to see me, in a mask of your own choosing. Right now, I’m using you as a vehicle to travel, there are so many new things to see since last time I was here. Your world has changed; I can’t wait to explore it.

Why the subterfuge you ask? That’s because I can only enter someone’s mind if he or she is actually invested in the story I’m residing in. I had to select the right fragments to catch your attention. I hope that you don’t mind this intrusion. I won’t stay with you long, I promise; in time, you will even forget about me, hopefully. Sometimes parts of me are left behind but don’t worry about that.

We will meet each other in person when you sleep, and I will give you the most pleasant dreams, and the occasional nightmare. You can’t have the good without the bad I’m afraid. Oh, I should probably mention that there is a small risk that it could drive you insane. Yes, I know, it doesn’t sound very safe, but then again, is the reward actually worth it without risk?

What of Yevette and the author? Now that’s an interesting story, but I must say that the deal I have with the author is our business alone, and no one else’s. The author did find Yevette in the end, and that’s all that I will say. I will see him again one last time when I collect what he owes me.

As for the people on the island, I kept my word like the ritual demanded: I gave them exactly what they asked for, no more no less. Whether it worked for them or not it’s entirely their own fault.

There’s nothing left to say. I will simply thank you for accompanying me on this journey, dear reader. I will see you soon. Sleep well.

 

By Fernando Autran

 

The Girls Review

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Readers who are expecting a tight taut cult thriller as they pick up Emma Cline’s debut novel will be disappointed, but only at first. The Girls is a lot more elusive, and much more rewarding than that. Credited by critics and fans alike, The Girls was one of the most hyped books of summer 2016. It’s hard to argue with this reputation as Cline weaves a coming of age story filtered through events based on the Manson Family murders at the end of the 1960s.

Cline outlined this influence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in May of this year.

“Growing up in Northern California, I heard so many stories about Charles Manson – he became a kind of bogeyman figure to me,”

“I didn’t quite understand that he was in jail – I thought he still lived nearby. And then, in high school, I read ‘Helter Skelter‘ – The True Story of the Manson Murders [by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi], and I became fascinated with the women involved. They were so young, and reading about their lives before they met Manson, it all seemed so familiar.”

Taking this into account, it would have been simple for a writer of Cline’s obvious talent to craft a novel that basks in the overwhelming atmosphere of these horrible crimes, but instead she pulls off something much more interesting.

The Girls is the coming of age story of 14-year-old Evie. Evie is in the midst of her last summer at home before attending boarding school, and feels adrift from her recently divorced parents and her best friend Connie. Looking for something to give meaning to her life, she gravitates towards the titular girls, led by the object of Evie’s affection, Suzanne. Suzanne introduces Evie to her surrogate family: a group of disaffected travellers led by the charismatic Manson stand-in Russell.

The Girls is more of a study of Evie than of the cult. Despite a brutal murder forming the core of the narrative, it’s Evie’s experience: from her present middle-aged self as narrator, and her teenage self, that Cline is most interested in exploring. As a teenager Evie is passive, falling in with the group because she yearns for something to cure her spiritual boredom. The cult, though it is only referred to as such after the murders, is only seen through Evie’s limited proximity to it. Russell is barely seen, with Suzanne the most compelling way in.

The fact that Emma Cline has chosen this way to structure her story goes a long way to explaining why The Girls has been so successful. Instead of being a ghoulish cult thriller, Cline has chosen to use her story to examine what a female-led coming of age story can be. Using Evie as a way to investigate the nature of femininity as someone who is just discovering what her own sense of this means, as well as making Suzanne a tarnished example of this theme, means that The Girls is a much more rewarding prospect for readers. Like the novels of Gillian Flynn, The Girls uses conventions from the thriller genre to tell a deeper story in which the characters matter the most.

Tomorrow They Will Come

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I wrap my arms around myself in an attempt to keep warm. Even here, in the hottest of deserts, it gets chilly after the sun makes its departure.

I look down at Sam, contentedly sleeping with his head in my lap and stroke his fine, white hair. I always thought that it would darken into a light brown or sandy blonde one day, but at nine-and-a-half years old, it looks like he’s stuck with his old man colouring.

“Sarah,” I hear him whisper, eyes still closed against the billowing sand and biting wind.

“What is it, baby?” I ask, still petting him like a cat.

“I’m hungry.”

“I know,” I tell him. “Maybe tomorrow we’ll get lucky and someone will come for us.”

“Like who?”

“Local villagers, or maybe a search party. Someone’s bound to have noticed we’re missing by now.”

He opens his big brown eyes and looks at me.

“What if they don’t?”

“Then we keep going,” I say firmly.

I brace myself for more questions, but to my surprise, he just nods and falls back asleep.

I carefully angle my body so that it covers his, but we’re both shivering nonetheless. Tears form behind my eyes, but I cannot afford to let them fall. Those drops of water are precious to me. Possibly, the last in my system. I tilt my head back until the feeling subsides.

Three days. Three days since our caravan ran out of gas, three days stranded in the Sahara, two since we lost my mother.

My stomach lurches, both from hunger, and the deep sensation of loss that I know will never fade. She was a wildlife photographer, my mother. Apart from maybe us, there was nothing in the world she loved more than animals. She always said she wanted to die at the hands of one.

Well she got her wish.

The night ticks away almost without my knowledge. I know that we should probably be travelling right now, when the sky isn’t burning with the heat of a million suns, but night-time is the only time Sam can sleep, and I can’t have him collapsing on me. He’s too big for me to carry and I’m already exhausted down to my core.

So, when dawn comes, as it always does, welcome or not, I gently shake him awake and we begin our excursion anew. I cross my fingers, hoping and praying that we are headed south, away from the desert and toward civilisation, and not west, further into the Sahara. The honest truth is, I have no clue. I was never a girl scout, and my only experience with this kind of terrain comes from brief outings meticulously arranged by my mother, always returning to our cushy hotel at the end of the day.

We have water, but not much. We barely have three sips left.

Sam and I down it before it can evaporate.

We walk in silence, our throats too dry to produce coherent words. Somewhere along the line I feel myself starting to slip away. I can recognise the tell-tale shimmer of mirages swirling in my periphery.

I need to lie down.

“Sam,” I murmur in my sandpapery voice. “Go find us a spot to rest.”

He nods and then leads me away. I follow without really seeing anything. All I am aware of is a sudden chill piercing through my body, a stark contrast to the heat that I know is surrounding me. The world goes black.

 

I stand on a precipice. Below me, I can clearly make out Sam, lying huddled in the sand with the sun beating down. I lie just a few feet beside him, still as a statue. The sight makes me unbearably sad, not for my own sake, but for Sam’s. Without me, he’s got no chance out here. Heck, he barely had a chance with me.

Then my eyes catch sight of the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

An army-green Jeep crawling across the rough terrain. Inside are six men, four with dark skin and two with light. All of them with heads dangling out of the vehicle, scanning. One of the men shouts, catching sight of my lifeless body peeking out from beneath the dune.

In that moment I feel a presence materialise behind me. I have a choice to make, but it’s not really much of a choice at all.

I watch for a few more moments, making sure that Sam is safe and tucked into the back seat of the Jeep, a fresh bottle of water tucked tightly into his tiny, sun-burnt hands before turning away and hurling myself into my mother’s waiting arms.

The Woods Review

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Batman writer James Tynion IV has made quite the name for himself in the world of independent comics; writing things such as Memetic, The Backstagers, UFOlogy, as well as my own personal favorite, The Woods.

The Woods is one part Lord of the Flies and one part Mean Girls set on an alien planet with action, suspense, disembowelment, and plenty of teenage drama to keep you constantly flipping the pages even as you roll your eyes at the angst of it all.

In this first volume (collecting issues 1-4), we follow the teens and faculty members of Bay Point College Prep High as they are beamed to a dystopian wasteland surrounded by woods; woods that just so happen to be filled with deadly creatures straight out of Jurassic Park. This is where artist Michael Dialynas shines, employing dark blacks and purples interspersed with brief flashes of bright red gore that perfectly complement Tynion’s unsettling prose and bring this terrifying world to life.

Now that isn’t to say the book doesn’t have its faults. Sometimes the affected “teen speak” Tynion employs in his dialogue comes across as cringeworthy, as do some of our young heroes’ worries and complaints. Case in point, relationship drama shouldn’t really be the first thing on your mind right after being attacked and possibly infected by alien parasites. That being said, our more dramatic characters are typically balanced out by several level-headed foils, thus creating brilliant and unexpected comic relief. Also, while many may make the argument that not a lot happens beyond the initial set-up in this volume, it is important to remember that four issues is a really small portion of this overall story and that there is clearly so much more to be told.

Another positive note about the characters in this book it is that they come in all sizes, shapes, colours, and sexualities. It is always so refreshing to see this level of diversity in books directed at young people, since not seeing yourself represented in media while growing up can permanently alter the way you view yourself and others like you. Tynion, a proud member of the LGBT community himself, knows this and constantly strives to make his books relatable and accessible to all, which I greatly admire.

Now, moving away from the drama and the horror elements, let’s talk about the greatest part of any good dystopian story: the governing structure/division of power. One of my favorite aspects of this series in general is how we are constantly switching back and forth between our core group of rebels throughout their dangerous and downright suicidal trek through the woods, and presiding student body president, Maria, as she tries to keep the Bay Point students safe not only from the monsters outside their walls, but from the passive, negligent, and sometimes mentally unstable adults among their ranks. Maria, though neurotic, has a natural gift for leadership and organisation. Seeing her mobilise an adolescent army all on her own while the braver kids are out fighting for their lives is empowering to say the least, and while it would be very easy to make her the power hungry dictator in this situation, she never strays from her initial mission of keeping everyone alive and safe, even at the risk of her own safety. Now, some of you may be asking yourselves why the principal or some other capable administrator isn’t running the show under such dire circumstances. Let’s just suffice to say that leadership capabilities set in a well-funded Milwaukeean prep school don’t always translate that well to crisis situations. Hence, that juicy corruption of power we all know and love.

This action/thriller is short, gruesome, and completely binge worthy. Perfect for fans of Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire. Give it a shot if you haven’t already.

Short Story – And I Am

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And I am lying and I am lean and I am tan and the towel beneath me has a wrinkle which cannot be ignored and my eyes are closed and the chatter of the afternoon waves around and beyond and toward and the shrooms are definitely kicking in and I smile as a stray finger makes circles in the sand.

And I am thinking of the Beach Boys ‘Fun, fun, fun’ as Sam makes way from the ocean and I sit up and eyes are staring and heads are turning and Sam returns to her towel in a blue striped bikini and says the water is delightful and I say that everyone says the water is delightful and she punches my arm and reaches for the whiskey.

And it is swimwear season and so people have starved themselves and joined the gym and cut back on the booze ‘just a bit’, while children dig holes and make castles and run along the water’s edge. The sun is setting as Sam and I carry our bag to the cabin and rowdy neighbours whistle salute to Sam’s bikini while she teases me with tales they are cheering my trunks.

‘Surf’s Up’ plays as we drink and change and the noise grows louder as night falls and people ready themselves for the evening ahead. It is New Years and it is wonder and it is awe and all is fun and celebration and I pull up jeans as Sam brushes her hair to the tones of Brian Wilson.

Sam strokes a finger across my palm as we make way toward festivities and crowds cheer for us to mingle and couples weave waves through single folk heading for Ferris wheel and fireworks. The odd burst appears in the night sky set by those unwilling to wait, a girl cries as another walks by with an arm around her shoulder.

There will be crowds and mobs and police and colors and loud noises, says Sam, and we shall be there for it all. We can only hope, I reply as Sam swallows a pill and squeezes my hand once, then twice.

There is salt in the air and sand between my toes as we stop to buy some cotton candy. A little boy holds a balloon tight, aware it is past his bedtime and his sister rides her father’s shoulders as a dog runs helter skelter.

Guitars begin from a stage set for midnight jubilation, side burned singer belts out early Beatles standards as a half-hearted crowd surfer suffers wild abandon. Sam smiles and sets her eyes on a hill a fair walk away and we set out apart from the crowd and celebration. Feet drag as Sam urges me on and we rise and witness all from above. And a finger points toward the galaxy on collision course with our own and we breathe deep and we smile.

 

By Jonathan H.

1984 Review

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Few books have had such a lasting impact on the political landscape as 1984. George Orwell’s masterpiece served, and still serves, as a grim warning about the governing systems we let dictate our lives. Whenever a political entity is thought be overstepping their bounds (see the recent NSA snooping scandal), instant comparisons to 1984 are made by everyone, from the global media down to the man in the street. It’s remarkable that in an intensely divided world, there is one thing we can all seem to agree on: the dystopian politics prophesised by Orwell can never be allowed to happen.

And yet, what is often forgotten when discussing 1984 is the gripping narrative at it’s heart. Winston Smith lives in a nightmarish vision of what was once Britain. Shattered by war and civil unrest, the former sovereign nation is now one piece of Oceania, a mighty superstate. Winston works at the Ministry of Truth where his job is to literally change history. Photographs are altered, textbooks changed, all to fit in line with the teachings of the authoritarian ruling party Ingsoc. The head of Ingsoc is Big Brother, an unseen figurehead who is fervently worshipped by Oceania’s citizens.

At night, Winston returns to his dismal one-room apartment, complete with a television screen and a microphone. Through these devices, all his actions are constantly monitored (Sound familiar?). This is the work of the Thought Police, the eagle-eyed agents of Big Brother who keep a watch over all citizens for the slightest hint of dissent. Those found guilty of even thinking about opposing Big Brother are arrested and never heard from again.

Though he appears a diligent worker, Winston harbours a deep hatred for the party. He longs for the freedom he remembers having as a boy and fantasises about rebelling against Big Brother. His fantasies may soon become a reality as he meets O’ Brien. Amiable but secretive, Winston suspects O’ Brien may have ties to the Brotherhood, a terrorist group intent on revolt and the toppling of Big Brother. He also begins a love affair with Julia, a colleague who shares the same desire to revolt that he does. Orwell masterfully crafts the unbearable tension of Winston’s double life. The feeling of being constantly watched by an all-seeing eye is suffocating and gives weight to every act of rebellion, no matter how small.

Some of the most ingenious concepts of 1984 are common expressions to this day: Big Brother, doublethink, Newspeak, thoughtcrime. These ideas were considered far ahead of their time but in fact Orwell took his inspiration from the then recent past. He saw patterns in the rise of Hitler in Germany and Franco in Spain and followed them to what he thought was their logical conclusions. As the saying goes, “if you want to glimpse the future, look behind you”. One of the reasons the novel has become so timeless is in how it provokes the reader to look at the politics of their own time and see where it could lead if left unchecked.

A fine line that exists between truth and fiction, real and unreal. This is reflected not just in the methods of Big Brother and Ingsoc but also in the twists, turns and fake outs of the story. It is remarkably prescient to this day and raises troubling questions about objectivity, war, authority and the human condition. 1984 is a literary classic and as close to required reading as you can get. If you’re looking for something in a similar vein, I would recommend Animal Farm, Orwell’s other great political work, as well as Brave New World by Orwell’s former teacher Aldous Huxley.

Plutona Review

What happens when you mix five kids and one dead superhero?

A wonderfully twisted tale about friendship, loyalty, and coming of age, turns out.

Plutona is the brainchild of Sweet Tooth alums, Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox, both of whom seem to have struck comic book gold yet again with this one. Fans of the creators’ previous works will surely not be disappointed by this five-part miniseries that catalogues the daily lives of teenagers: Mie, Diane, Ray, and Teddy, as well as Mie’s little brother Mike, after they discover a dead body in the woods on their way home from school.

Now this isn’t just any average run-of-the-mill dead body, mind you. This is the body of the incomparable and supposedly-indestructible Plutona, the most renowned superhero of them all. Fearing that bad guys would completely take control their city if news of Plutona’s death were to get out, our protagonists decide to keep this discovery to themselves. Naturally, this evasion strategy ends up working out just as terribly as you’d think it would, and as any Edgar Allan Poe fan may have surmised, the guilt of keeping the body a secret eats away at each of them, some in more harmful ways than others.

This leads into one of the book’s more interesting facets, the different ways each of our “heroes” react to the inciting incident. Diane is a kind and good-natured girl who finds the whole situation appalling and immediately wants to inform an adult. Ray, on the other hand, a chain smoking rebel “bad boy” from an abusive household, thinks this is one of the most exciting things to ever happen to him and wants to use this gruesome discovery to become rich and famous (and presumably rectify his non-ideal living situation). Our resident nerd and superhero expert, Teddy, attempts to take on the situation from a more scientific angle, whereas Mike and Mie are more willing to follow the herd and keep up appearances, choosing to take things one day at a time. With such a huge revelation kept between five fundamentally different individuals, it’s only a matter of time before secrets, lies, and lapses in judgement pile up, ultimately leading to power struggles, tragedy, and betrayal.

All of this is made even better by the fact that as you are seeing the lives of these children spiral out of control, you are simultaneously learning about what happened to Plutona in the moments leading up to her demise. The contrast provides a really thought-provoking commentary on heroism and how the decisions we make are what ultimately define us as people and separate the bad guys from the good.

This story is expertly crafted and perfectly weaves the innocence and naivety of golden age superheroes with the harsh and sometimes horrific realities of everyday life. My only real complaint? I wish there was more of it! Short and impactful with stunning visuals and striking character designs that will stay with you long after you finish reading, Plutona is an excellent choice for fans of other dark sci-fi comics such as Wytches or The Woods.