I think I’m getting burnt out on Hollywood stories. After this summer with the grotesque horror show of Neon Demon and the lousy effort of Jean-Claude Van Johnson, I’m just about ready to set fire to California and every industry therein.
That’s where Glitterbomb comes in.
The latest Image offering promises to tell a creature feature horror story deep in the depths of the sexist and ageist belly of the entertainment industry.
The main character, Farrah, is a thirty-something actress and single mom struggling to find any acting gigs until one day she’s pulled underwater and conjoined with…something that’ll change everything. Or at least maybe it will.
Glitterbomb does well cutting straight to the misogynistic heart of media production where women are commoditized and criticized for every dent in their figure just short of perfection. The sequential art here creates a strong sense of the claustrophobia of casting calls and agent meetings, where Farrah’s left to suffer through insults and the painful silence of waiting.
This isn’t a comic afraid to present only an image or even a series of dialogue-less panels and for that I’m grateful. The art here establishes the rotten tone of the setting and the frustration for the characters in it, and when the horror rises to the surface, the coloring shines, bringing forth this watercolor tinge that seized me into those moments.
All the things I’ve just described are...good. I definitely don’t think this comic is bad but by the end of the issue I couldn’t but wonder: "so what?" Not towards the issue’s message, not towards what the comic wants to talk about or the seriousness of it but because there weren’t any story hooks left for me to care.
If this were a single, contained, short story comic it’d be perfect and incredibly effective, but this is the first issue. This is the comic that’s meant to sell me on following their story but fails to present any legs for it to move forward on. What’s Farrah going to do next with her new monster inside? Is she going to try to suppress it? Is she going to start killing the sexist figures in the film industry? Am I meant to want someone to stop her? These aren’t questions the issue raises but things that I am left grasping for.
The totality of the comic amounts to this: failing actress becomes possessed by a weird monster who kills jerks. That’s about it. I don’t think this would be a problem if I were reading Glitterbomb as a trade. This set-up chapter just doesn’t feel tailored to being told as a single issue. I don't think this is the fault of the creators, but rather it feels more endemic to the editorial styles coming out of Image Comics.
So many comics coming out of them seem to adhere to an almost novel-like structure, and Glitterbomb fits this mold. They don’t feel interested in delivering a complete and fulfilling experience in a single issue. Not one where the serialized storytelling builds—instead of relies—on the next issues to come. This fine in a trade or graphic novel or book where one chapter leads into another but having to review only this, I’m frustrated.
Glitterbomb is not a bad comic. The art is good; the writing is smart, and there’s some great color work happening here. Glitterbomb is a comic with an interesting premise. Glitterbomb is not yet, however, a comic with an interesting story.
[su_box title="Score: 3/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Djibril Morissette-Phan
Colorist: K. Michael Russel
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Image Comics
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital