On the back cover to the first collection of Girls, a quote from Brian Michael Bendis, the bestselling comic book writer of the past decade, exclaims, “The Luna Brothers are the future of comics!”
I really hope they’re not.
Because judging from this first volume – called Conception – the Luna Brothers don’t know how to write or draw a comic book, and they’re probably misogynistic too.
The book opens with a young man named Ethan masturbating. We get a closeup of his sperm, and then a closeup of his face. His lip is slightly upturned, which indicates that he’s enjoying himself. This is the most expressive his face will be for the entire comic book.
Ethan is a lot like other characters, few of them from comic books. Like other fictional characters, he is upset that he has trouble with women. Like other characters, he lives in a hillbilly town, which is a lot like other hillbilly towns in fiction. It is more of a cliché hillbilly town than, say, the one in the silly movie Black Snake Moan. But perhaps Ethan will appeal to stereotypical comic book readers, who stereotypically tend to have trouble with women. Perhaps the mundane hillbilly town will also appear to comic book readers, who are used to reading stories about soaring metropolises with hypersexualized beings in spandex punching each other.
One night, at a bar, Ethan starts drunkenly rambling about how terrible women are. His monologue reads like something a bad writing student might have spouted. (I’d know; I’ve been to writing school, and I’ve been a bad writing student.) His facial expression remains relatively stagnant throughout his dialog. In a self-reflexive moment of irony for the Luna Brothers, Ethan is rightly called out as a misogynist. Soon after, on his drunken drive home, he discovers a mysterious naked woman in the middle of the road. Every man unlucky in love fantasizes about such things.
From there, things get strange. Ethan and the mystery woman fuck, and she lays eggs from which hatch more, identical naked women. These naked women proceed to terrorize the town. Later, there is a giant sperm monster.
Girls thinks it is a clever comic. It thinks it’s an erotic horror tale, but it’s neither erotic nor horrific. This story thinks it has something clever to say about human sexuality, but really it’s a dumb comic book with a giant sperm monster. The Luna Brothers are not great crafters of sequential visual storytelling. They’re just two more guys in the comic book world who like drawing naked women.
And what they have to say about women is awful. These mysterious naked women attack the women in the hillbilly town. This an awful male sexual fantasy, cathartic only for men who see women as sex objects and hate when they talk.
At least the naked women look lovely. Unlike most comic book women, they’re drawn with anatomic realism. Their breasts and butts aren’t impossibly large, and their waists are normal size. They’re drawn with relative simplicity and economy of line. They’re also the only decent bit of art in this comic.
The rest of the art is bad. It’s not just that every character maintains the same facial expression no matter what they’re doing or saying; the sequential art often fails to effectively convey the story. In the scene where the giant sperm monster kills two people, I only realized that it had, in fact, attacked them two pages later when one character said that it had.
The Luna Brothers’ Girls is not the future of comics. It’s only redeeming quality is that it’s unlike any other comic published. But that doesn’t make it worth reading.