Page 45 Review by Stephen
Okay, I'm a big boy - I can put my hand up and say I was wrong. "I was wrong."
A couple of these pieces still don't do it for me, but this a far better body of work than I originally thought, with some of these self-contained stories coming off like early OPTIC NERVE before the art-school sensibilities kicked in. In other words: relationships, be they friends or lovers, some of whom understand and look out for each other, whilst others don't.
Two of my favourites are where they don't, but with very different results. In "Mixtape" a young man listens to the tape left behind by his girlfriend who's committed suicide, although in actual fact she's either communicating from beyond, or he's coming to an understanding himself. The understanding is, he never understood her. She asks him to take her to their favourite places, only they turn out to be his. It's not confrontational at all - she just wants him to learn, move on, and then use his fresh self-awareness. "Breaking Up", however, couldn't be more confrontational, as Angie ditches Gabe in public. Interspersed between the present argument are problems from the past, but it's not as straightforward as it first appears (are these power struggles ever?), nor is it all one-track recrimination. Yeah, I particularly enjoyed the complexity of that one. You almost forget about the elements of the fantastical after the first few stories, since those elements become less and less obvious.
Becky Cloonan tries her hand at a variety of styles from hard and dark to wide-eyed yaoi, with bits of O'Malley and Paul Pope in between, and at no point does she seem to lose confidence or the ability to submit the art to the task of telling the story clearly and with sympathy - something many corporate comicbook artists find themselves incapable of.
Since writing the above Brian Wood has of course gone stellar, and LOCAL with Ryan Kelly on art became my favourite book of 2008. LOCAL fans are heartily encouraged to check this out and see exactly where he was coming from.