Monday, October 24, 2005

Black Hole

Charles Burns' Black Hole took the artist nine years to create. And finally, the twelve issues have been collected into a beautiful hardcover for all to enjoy. The premise of this creepy, but human book is of a plague that affects teenagers if they have sex with someone who has been infected, manifesting in either subtle or disturbingly overt ways: some people's heads are turned into something of living skeletons, some people have little worm-like appendages growing from their ribs. It really all comes down to luck. But the plague is just a device to tell the stories of these teenagers, who grow up feeling awkward and ostracized. Their bodies are changing, they're making life-altering decisions (like having sex) and they're growing apart from their lifelong friends. The plague forces these issues to occur rapidly, sometimes ending in a violent scenario for these trapped kids. Infected kids basically have two choices once they've contracted the plague: go into exile in the forest, or try to pass as normal and continue to go to school and cover up their scars and cancers. Black Hole is a very deep work with many layers, and it's illustrated just beautifully. I was really surprised (and impressed) at the control Burns demonstrated over his art. For a decade-long work, page one's artwork is just as polished and mature as the last page, with no growth whatsoever. It's like Charles Burns had his skill honed before attempting to work on his masterpiece, which could very well be the case. This is easily one of the best comics to come out this year.

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