Quick comic comments

Through a coincidence of release timing, I’ve found myself considering Paris (Slave Labor Graphics) and Polly and the Pirates (Oni) in conjunction. They both deal with young women caught between convention and independence, and they’re some of the stronger mini-series I’ve seen in a while. Each features a combination of winning art and solid story, but they diverge a bit in their latest installments.

Paris concludes with its fourth issue, and it seems like there should be a fifth out there somewhere. Andi Watson’s plot has never been as essential to Paris as Simon Gane’s illustrations, but Watson introduces developments in this final chapter that could have really been fascinating if they’d been explored in more detail. As it stands, they’re interesting grace notes that provide some resonance for the central romance, but I can’t shake the feeling that more space and time might have made the twists really effective.

Gane continues to amaze, though. He’s as adept at rendering small-town America and the English countryside as he is the City of Light. The new settings accentuate the distance between heroines Debs and Juliet and make their reconnection (inevitable as it is) more satisfying. If nothing else has come from the publication of Paris (and it really is very strong on the whole), it’s given Gane a wonderful showcase for his considerable talents.

The fifth issue of Polly stands out from the chapters that preceded it as well. One of the things I’ve really admired about Ted Naifeh’s work so far is how each issue has stood alone as an individual entertainment while managing to build momentum in the overall story. This chapter isn’t quite as successful as the others, but it’s very much a penultimate issue and works wonderfully as such.

Naifeh shows Polly coming into her mother’s legacy from a couple of different directions. As her inherited aptitude for piracy becomes more evident, she gains a fuller understanding of her mother as an individual. Will Polly be able to fully reconcile her expectations (that she’d be the most proper of young ladies) with the adventuresome life of a pirate princess? Chances seem exceptionally good, and it will almost certainly be a delight to watch.

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