Review: The Beauty #21
Written by: Jeremy Haun & Jason A. Hurley
Art: Thomas Nachlik
Colours: Nayoung Kim
Letters: Thomas Mauer
Publisher: Image Comics
In The Beauty, Image have unleashed a genre mashing spectacular where horror plays as big a part as social commentary, governmental paranoia and corporate betrayal. In this sweeping issue, Coop looks deeper into pharma giants Abericorp, uncovering corporate espionage as well as deadly government secrets, and soon discovers that being safe is now a thing of the past. Knowledge is deadly as we see our plucky protagonists scramble for the truth as the clock keeps ticking. With the heady backdrop of Mardis Gras, the investigation comes to a head when suddenly Cooper finds himself staring down the proverbial barrel.
As has been the backbone of the series so far, there is a certain economy in the writing where words aren’t wasted unnecessarily. The storytelling is as clinical as the disease that is boring its way into the very fabric of the America of the fable. Conversations are brutally realistic and all too human in their catching of the mood and wariness of the characters involved. The elements of conspiracy and intrigue very much come onto their own here and the book feels evermore claustrophobic as Coop feels the onset of the horrific final stages of the disease looming as well as the walls closing in regarding the prying eyes of the government and their big pharma bedfellows. I’ve noticed the pace increasing over the last few issues and I feel like we’re heading for a stormy next chapter.
Artwise, Nachlik and Kim combine beautifully to produce a book that plays with perspectives in a provocative manner and presents the setting in a dynamic way. The opening sequence with Coop battling his own reflection is testament to the sheer skill that the creative team have in the armory. The beautiful infected strike a horrid contrast to the flashed images of the final stage victims and the human story reaches its dramatic apex when we realise that this metaphor will only be lost on the streets of America today. This all too real horror is captured poignantly in the closing, darkly pastelled frames where Coop faces death itself…or does death face him?
All-in-all, this is a solid continuation of a solid series. The character development is subtle but one of the best things about the series, in my opinion. And with smart writing and attention-grabbing art, what’s not to love. The series builds and builds upon its early shocks and perspectives and this is why readers are coming back for more each issue. Come for the love of it, stay for the horror.
Skully’s Corner: Why buy this book? Imagine that, a disease where you get beautiful after contracting it. Of course, I’m already a looker but a little stubble wouldn’t do any harm. Anyhoos, you didn’t come here to listen to me blathering on about how incredibly good looking I am. Well, the book is even better looking than me. Cracking art the makes every crow’s foot and wrinkle seem like a malaise speaks volumes. And the slick story-telling is worth the cover price alone. 8/10
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Review written by Arun Sharma.
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