Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review: No Place Like Home #1

Gothic Geyer

  No Place Like Home #1 swirls with ideas, influences, and iconography; except that it never settles down, which is appropriate, perhaps, for a story that starts with a tornado.  The first-time creative team of writer Angelo Tirotto and artist Richard Jordan don’t suffer from the ‘anxiety of influence’ as much as hyperactive imaginations.  There’s nerviness to the narrative, reverent in its irreverence that dares (and at the same time desperately desires) the reader to quote the famous line: ‘I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.’
  Oh, it’s Kansas alright, Emeraldsville, Kansas in 2001 to be exact.  As said twister bears down on Don and Linda (stand-ins for Uncle Henry and Auntie Em) there’s a tip of the hat to L. Frank Buam’s creation from the The Marvelous Land of Oz, Jack Pumpkinhead; it’s the first reference in a spirited game of ‘I spy’ that plays out over the course of the story and is sure to continue during the series.  The panels in the prologue act as jump cuts in a film.  While this provides the sequence with an ominous atmosphere it also creates confusion: in one panel Don is at the top of the storm shelter stairs reaching for his shotgun, in the next, he’s falling down the stairs with shotgun in hand, followed by a panel of he and Linda crouched in a corner confronting the first of the story’s many mysteries.  It works, but barely.
  There is a strong mark of the gothic in this story, secret sins, family skeletons, women in distress, and ancient prophecies, not to mention fishnets, black nail polish, and ruffled sleeves.  Tirotto and Jordan can’t keep content with an oblique remark; its chapter and verse or bust.  The most evident example of this go-big-or-get-out-ethos is the story’s protagonist, Dee, a cigarette smoking, Dorothy doppelganger with tousled hair (black, of course), and a stud in her nose.  Gone is the gingham dress replaced by a micro-mini and a black leather motorcycle jacket[1].  To be Gothic, after all, is to be pointed.
  Tirotto and Jordan may have accessorized their ‘Dee’ different from Dorothy, but they’ve kept the most important aspect of the source material for their facsimile; Dee like Dorothy is a border crosser.  Dee returns home to Kansas from LA where she’s been living for five years.  For someone who has been apart for so long from friends and family, she moves effortlessly from one social setting and one social circle to the next; she’s as at home with elderly aunts and uncles as she is at a drive-in movie (The Wizard of Oz, natch) hanging out and drinking beers with her peers.  Dorothy, um … Dee’s power to translate herself as well as transition from one set and setting to the next will, no doubt, put her in good standing as the series continues and as Oz imparts its influence on the story.
  There’s a visual motif of crow feathers that floats all through the narrative; their prevalence indicative of an over-stuffed plot bursting at the seams.  If the creators of this comic can curb their enthusiasm enough to focus on telling their own potentially potent tale, Tirotto and Jordan will have a wicked hit on their hands.       

[1] The cover for No Place Like Home catches the eye, – I prefer the variant, a gun, short shorts, and a dog in exchange for tattooed bared breasts – it’s a bold, brash, and hyper-sexualized image with the word ‘surrender’ written across Dee’s chest.  Within the story, however, the tattoo has been removed.  There’s no ‘surrender,’ no tattoo, so, who surrendered ‘surrender?’  I didn’t know until I was doing an image search that the standard issue cover is the direct lift from W magazine that Rooney Mara did to promote The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, 

3/26  In a tweet Angelo Tirotto @room237 tweeted: @keithpmsilva Hi, the truth is this, I gave Rich the Rooney pic and said "Do that but with Dee" as a homage. We thought it looked cool!

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