I would be terrified to live in a world where people had superpowers. Whenever I read a comic where there’s people flying around with things like super strength, heat vision, and good ole’ invulnerability, I wonder how most people non-powered people manage their anxiety. It would be like living in an area prone to earthquakes only the destruction was determined by a few individuals’ whims rather than shifting tectonic plates. Reading the second issue of Plutona, I most enjoyed the ways in which Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox use these children to provide a diverse range of perspectives on the way people would respond to the presence of heroes in a world resembling our own. Unafraid to portray children as nuanced persons, Plutona succeeds at crafting well-defined characters whose actions remain surprising. One of the most notable things about this issue is how much it lingers in the moment following the children’s discovery of Plutona’s body at the end of the last issue. Encircling the titular character, the children respond to varying degrees of horror, fascination, and nausea while trying determine their next course of action. While nothing much occurs in these pages plot-wise, Lemire and Lenox do fantastic world of fleshing out the comic’s world through dialogue and images of the few superheroes existing in the characters’ city. Once they come to a decision about what they’ll do, each of the characters head home, and individually process the day’s events, leaving some more unsettled than others at the potential ramifications of their discovery. The final page ends things on a surprising note that made sense on my second reading, and has me excited for the development of the only character who I felt still remained one dimensional.
With Plutona, Lemire really excels at crafting dialogue and actions that make the child cast continuously compelling, and provides Lenox several instances where her art works on its own to show the children’s evolving emotional states. While the premiere did a fantastic job of laying the groundwork for the characters and their relationships, this one pushes things further by rounding out the characters beyond their initial qualities. For instance, last issue left me a little perplexed about why the super endearing Diane would be friends with Mie who seemed to only take advantage of the former’s kindness. Here though, we get to see the extent to which Mie also cares about Di, comforting her following their initial response to Plutona’s body and then defending her when Ray persists in awful sizist name-calling. Ray, the abused bully, also gets a wider swatch of characteristics as well, and I most liked the pages centered on his home life that reveal just how vulnerable of a kid he is. In those wordless pages, Emi Lenox does a wonderful job of showing Ray’s slow descent into melancholy as his father’s alcohol intake increases. With only changes to Ray’s facial expression and the number of alcohol containers in the panel, we’re given the sense that Ray truly struggles to remain intact even when his father isn’t directly physically abusing him.
I’m also really enjoying the backup feature written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire that shows us the events leading up to Plutona’s death. In just two pages, Lemire effectively uses these flashbacks to show us Plutona’s personality and struggles, which lends her death a greater amount of sadness as we recognize the benevolence with which Plutona acted. I’m curious to see what these backups lead to as the series progresses, but I’m much more fascinated at Lemire and Lenox’s continued exploration of these children as they deal with the consequences with their discovery and the inadvertent risks their sure to draw to themselves. Like Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at The End of the Lane, this comic is about children but may not exactly be for children. Through this comic, adults of all ages are able to reflect on catalytic moments where they also were pushed out of innocence, a meditative gift that I’m grateful to Lemire and Lenox for providing.
Plutona #2 Writer: Jeff Lemire Artist: Emi Lenox Colorist: Jorde Bellaire Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 10/7/15 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital