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Friday, May 15, 2015

Hollow Girl. I am No One. Luke Cooper (Writer & Artist) Scar Comics (2015)

Girls, guns, ghosts and gangsters all expertly stirred together by Luke Cooper into an engaging and hugely enjoyable comic. A woman in a white mask is picked up by two men, one takes her to a hotel room where he reveals that he has something nasty in mind. The woman reveals that she too has other plans for the encounter and it all starts to go thoroughly wrong for everyone. A flashback introduces Katherine Harlow who has just killed her parents for pretty much no reason and is put in a psychiatric  unit for observation. When the ghost of a victim of a sexual predator who is coming for Katherine, offers to help Katherine accepts. Using a very well staged time shifting narrative, Luke Cooper cuts between both times as the Hollow Girl delivers revenge for those who cannot.
Starting from the introduction Luke Cooper shows that he is a very smart, sharp writer who takes a wide array of ideas and makes them seamlessly work together. The classic superhero idea of some external agency giving the hero their powers is neatly subverted by the fact that the powers are coming from vengeful ghosts. By themselves they are wisps of unfulfilled anger, give them a willing host and they are ready to exact their revenge. Hollow Girl is the anti-superhero, getting powers to wreak bloody mayhem on others, justice is not included, this is payback with all its force and impact.
Luke Cooper resolves several story problems with wit and sharp thinking, the first and most important being the problem of hollow girl herself. After her astonishing introduction there is nothing more that can really be done with her, Luke Cooper resolves this by doing nothing more with her. Hollow girl is a vessel for those who fill her and the cast who surround her are interacting with the ghosts and the possibilities of that are artfully exploited by Luke Cooper to the full.
The supporting cast are a joy, busting with, frequently malicious, life they are never just convenient blood filled targets. They are ready to return fire and never go down easy. In one panel Caliban, a gang leader explains succinctly what the problem with the situation is and that panel nails the force of the book. All of the cast are driven by something and that means that when they collide they do so with force and real impact.
Luke Cooper's art is distinctive and full of energy. For an action driven book movement is crucial and Luke Cooper is a master of movement, the action has a weight and impact that the story needs. Grounding the story is hard physical action is a excellent counterweight to the wispy nature of the ghosts, it allows the supernatural aspect of the story slide by without upsetting or unbalancing the action. Where required a solidly physical reason is provided for physical skills, the ghosts are not there to provide easy solutions to someone shooting at you. It is a considerable tribute to Luke Cooper's skill that a colour scheme of black, white and grey is just right for the noir tones of the story.
Do not let the title mislead you, Hollow Girl is really is someone.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Luke Cooper, who is running a KIckstarter campaign to fun publication of the book. This is the link to the Kickstarter page,
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/339233852/hollow-girl-by-luke-cooper ,
where digital, softback,  and hardback editions as well as PDFs, posters, sketches and a t-shirt are being offered as extras. Support excellent comics and give yourself the pleasure of reading one, support the Kickstarter.

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