Thursday, February 5, 2015

Effigy #1 Review

Written by: Tim Seeley
Art by: Marley Zarcone
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: January 28, 2015

Idle Worship (Part One) - Reality

Effigy #1 Cover by W. Scott Forbes
Effigy, a new series created by writer Tim Seeley and artist Marley Zarcone that much better: it's topical and well done.
In the modern day and age it's hard not to think about the myriad of child stars from the last twenty or so years and the dark path a good percentage of them have gone down. Screech, Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes, Macaulay Culkin--every path shows a former child star that is nothing more than a mere shell of their former selves.

The story opens with the scenes of a children's television series called Star Cop, starring child actress Chondra Jackson as the lovable Bebe Soma. While these pages are artistically well done and carry the same mood you would expect from a stereotypical children's show they are far from indicative of the tone of this book. The language is profane and the content mature leaving Seeley right in his element that takes me back to the first time I picked up a copy of Hack/Slash.

Fast forward to 2015--Star Cop is off the air, Chondra has returned to her hometown of Effigy Mound, IL where she works as a cop, and no one has forgotten her rise to stardom and the inflation of ego she experienced. Her mother hasn't forgotten her former stardom either, longing to be back in LA and as far away from Illinois as is humanly possible. Something had to humble Chondra, though, and it turns out that something was a sex tape. Specifically, a sex tape she starred in and then sold the rights to herself--her mother's idea of course. If there was one lesson for me to glean it was that her mother is clearly not the wisest woman in the world and I look forward to seeing what other idiotic decisions she encourages her daughter to partake in during the coming issues.

The other is a sex-tape is an easy way out typecasting....or you could just stab someone--looking at you, Screech.

Murder is on someone's mind though as Chondra receives a call from her captain asking for her at a crime scene immediately. When Chondra arrives she learns two valuable lessons:

1. Don't belittle the "average, unassuming person" that you see heading in the same general direction as you, they could just be your new partner. In this case that role is filled by Detective Moore who pulled time from his busy schedule in Cleveland, OH to come down and help investigate the discovery of a newly placed mummy with a hole in their skull.

2. Someone out there was crazy enough to get a giant tattoo on their back of the logo Bebe Soma had on her shirt on Star Cop complete with killer catchphrase.

For an exposition issue Seeley and Zarcone managed to put together quite a book. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued to see what exactly happens next with this tale, especially considering the strength of the creative team behind it. Seeley wrote a tale that manages to captivate the reader and let them know that even though child stars gone wrong is a prevalent issue, sometimes there can be a quality story to go alongside the morality tale of not making a sex tape to begin with.

Effigy #1 Andrew Robinson Variant Cover
The pages of the book that showcase Chondra's childhood contrast the tone of the rest of the book in a way that I really enjoyed. For every line that the talking dog at the beginning of the book has you get a sex scene, some profanity, or even some sexually explicit insults lobbed around about a Miley Cyrus look alike. The good part is that it's never done to excess so you never hope for it to stop, but rather take it as it comes. One thing's for sure though: Effigy definitely earned it's 17+ rating from Vertigo Comics.

As I always say about comic books fantastic writing is only half of the package though. Backing Seeley's tale with some rather incredible art work is artist Marley Zarcone who has had a chance to work on everything from mature independent books to DC books aimed at kids. While a first glance at her style suggests that she might be best suited for DC Comics books of the family variety, her art presents the tale in a way that gives it an interesting flavor I don't often feel from a book of such mature subject matter. I love books like The Kitchen where the art and writing are equally dark and mature but Effigy does something even better: it presents all of the art from a lighthearted and happy perspective, adding the darkness and maturity where need be. Overall, I think that gives the story a unique visual flavor that I loved.

Bits & Pieces

Despite it's focus on child stars and the occasional flashback to the early days of Chondra's career this definitely is not a book for children that fits in well on Vertigo imprint of DC Comics. Having the writer and artist both be responsible for the creation of the title helps give the series a sense of intimacy that a lot of super hero books lack for one simple reason: creators have a vision and other talents will never see that vision the same way the creator does.

While I openly sing Seeley's praises for the writing of this story I have to give the MVP award to Marley Zarcone. There aren't a lot of female writers and artists currently working on books for big name publisher's so whenever there is one you know there's a particular talent there. Seeing a book about a female character being drawn by a female character is a particularly good feeling as opposed to seeing a sexist and over-exaggerated portrayal of the sex that often finds its way into comic books.

Effigy #1 is definitely a book I can recommend picking up.


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