The third issue of Skinned has raised the stakes in a way that each previous issue hinted at, but never pulled off. That’s not to say the first couple issues didn’t have good endings, because they did; this one just went for a really ballsy one and stuck the landing. In this issue, Buoy has to try and track down Aldair, who has gone missing after the last issue. To do so, he steals a tablet and tracks down his best buddy Jonsei from the first issue, and hatches a plan to find her. Meanwhile, Aldair gets into some trouble of her own trying to make it in the big city.
The plot of this book is kind of barebones when you come down to it, but in a good way. It’s an economy of story that gives Gowdy as an artist more room to play around, as opposed to an error of pacing. Each issue has had a solid cliffhanger ending, and the pages keep you reading. That being said, the art in this book is such a treat every month. Gowdy does an excellent job of making an entire page’s worth of Easter eggs (“Oh, those are the DHARMA symbols from LOST!”) that is still a solid page, where nothing gets lost.
I meant to mention this last issue, and I ran out of space, but it took me a bit to catch up on the concept for this book with regards to the different settings and moods. On an obvious level, all the characters are wearing OccupEYE’s that tie into the IRIS system, so of course they can see the world however they want, but Daniel, Holt and Gowdy have added a layer of metaphor to it. Each setting works with the relation to the character interaction in the scene. For example, last issue when Aldair first interacted with Buoy, she was dressed as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s—out to impress. In this issue, when Buoy and Jonsei get together to try and track down Aldair, it’s black and white, noir coloring and trenchcoats—men solving a mystery of a missing woman. It’s a good time all around.
The other thing that stuck out to me in this issue is that OccupEYE apparently presents a fluidity of gender to its users. Since I’m still not clear on whether one person’s scenario overrides another’s (say, you’re granted an audience with the king: if you are seeing the world as the video game DOOM and he is seeing a world where he’s the king of Rohan, whose perspective is presented and does one literally override the other?), I’m not sure who controls what is seen on the panel. When Buoy approaches Jonsei, the sequence seems to align itself with Jonsei’s point of view, and Jonsei sees Buoy as a sexy, buxom woman. I don’t know what that says about their friendship, but I think it’s definitely an interesting open door into what happens when everyone decides what their world looks like.
Skinned started off a little slow and shaky, but it’s growing confidently into its own as a book. It’s got a strong design aesthetic, and with this issue, they’ve introduced a classic quest element. I think it’s going to continue to be a lot of fun.
Writers: Tim Daniel & Jeremy Holt Artist: Joshua Gowdy Publisher: MonkeyBrain Comics Price: $0.99 Release Date: 8/13/14 Format: Ongoing; Digital