Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spell Checkers (Volume 1)

Jamie S. Rich, Nicolas Hitori De & Joelle Jones

I'm a fan of the whole teen witch subgenre...when it's done well.  This is not.  Spell Checkers has three high school girls as the protagonists, girls who have used magic to bring about their popularity and make things much easier for themselves (using clones to go to gym class for them, glamour bubbles that let them talk together during class, spells to help them ace exams, etc.)  They really take their powers for granted, as is demonstrated by how helpless they are when their powers begin to zonk out on them.  Their classmates retaliate and the girls turn on each other viciously, accusing one another for causing the drain on their magical powers.  Unfortunately, these witches have absolutely no redeeming qualities.  They're just horrible, crass girls, and this made me indifferent to whether they got out of their situation or not.  Plus, beyond the generic "this girl is the goth girl" types grafted on to each of them, they lack any sense of personality, and are hard to keep straight.  Beyond the characterization problems, the "mystery" of who is taking away their powers is easy to spot a mile away (let's see, the only person who could be behind it pretty much), and while the girls acknowledge that they should have seen it coming, it doesn't make the revelation any less lame.  Same goes for the reason behind the attack, which seemed like a half-hearted attempt to tie the title Spell Checkers into the story, with probably the stupidest motivation I've ever come across.  The girls look kind of cute in a few of Nicolas Hitori De's panels, but for the most part, the art is pretty damn lackluster, and often hard to follow.  I hate, as a reader, having to fill in gaps in storytelling when the panels aren't clear enough to get the action across by themselves, or having to stare at the art to figure out exactly what's going on - talk about taking you out of the story.  I hardly wanted to make an effort with a "story" like this.  Joelle Jones' flashback scenes were less painful (they were actually pretty impressive overall), but with a train wreck of a story like this, it was best that she waste as little of her art skill as possible on this title.  If you enjoy watching indistinguishable girls have tantrums for 145 pages, then this book's for you, otherwise...check out Spellbinders by Mike Carey and Steve Perkins for a teen witch comic done right.

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