American Virgin #7
“Going Down, Part 3 of 5”
Writer: Steven T. Seagle
Pencils: Becky Cloonan
Inks: Ryan Kelly
Colors: Brian Miller
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover artist: Joshua Middleton
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo imprint
Price $2.99 US/$4 CAN
Everything about American Virgin is designed to make people uncomfortable. The hero of the series is a youthful evangelist, a devout Christian — not exactly the kind of figure that’s going to appeal to Vertigo readers. The story forces that hero to face corners of the world that violate his Evangelical Christian sensibilities. He’s forced to face the notion that he is no more special than anyone else around him. Adam also makes the world around him uncomfortable. He’s young and attractive. The world should be his sexual oyster, and no one understands why he’s so dedicated to his belief that sex is a marital privilege. In this issue, the script focuses on immersing Adam in a world of non-traditional sexuality. Of homosexuality, transsexuality and anti-monogamy. Seagle neither denounces nor sugarcoats the alternative scene in which Adam finds himself, and I’m pleased to find Adam refrains from preaching too much about things about which he has little experience or exposure.
Mel, the mercenary who has promised Adam he can lead him to the man who beheaded the woman he planned to marry, leads the young inspirational speaker to an underground gay disco where the fetishist murderer can be found. A plan is hatched to lure the killer into the open, with Adam as the bait. Meanwhile, Adam learns new things about the sexual histories of his Australian hosts, and he learns something new about his stepsister, who’s accompanied him on his globetrotting trek of revenge.
Series artist Becky Cloonan is joined by inker Ryan Kelly, and it’s an excellent fit. It comes as little surprise, as each was tapped by writer Brian Wood for two acclaimed series: Cloonan on Demo on AiT/PlanetLar and Kelly on Local, now being published by Oni Press. I love the emotional energy the artists pour into each character. Adam’s confusion, depression and drive really shine through in Cloonan’s manga-inspired style. I must also make mention of Brian Miller’s colors. It’s his work that brings the rave-like atmosphere of the second half of the issue come to life. The constantly shifting Day-Glo colors in which the characters are immersed convey that loud, surreal setting perfectly.
The interior artists and cover artist Joshua Middleton capture Cyndi’s tender age and wild nature perfectly. Her freckles and soft features bring an innocent look to the character that makes for an interesting contrast with her bad-girl attitude. Cyndi represents the joys of being bad, of experimentation, of living life with abandon. As a result, she’s an attractive figure, and the artists — and especially Middleton — do an excellent job of not only making her seem sexy but naturally beautiful.
I find it impressive that even at the halfway point of the second story arc and seven issues into the series as a whole, Seagle offers up a thoroughly accessible script. It conveys everything we need to know about Adam and his missions. Even new readers should have no trouble delving into the book at this unlikely point.
Seagle is a crafting a book that’s about conflicting themes: life versus death. The catalyst for the story and the hero’s ongoing motivation is getting to the bottom of his girlfriend’s murder. However, as he continues on his quest, he’s forced to face his own sexuality, cultural phenomena that revolve around youthful abandon and his need to rebel against authority. The opening scene between Adam and Claudia (once misspelled as Clauda) sums that notion up perfectly. 10/10