Writer/Atist: Andrew MacLean
What They Say:
Alone at the end of the world, Aria is a woman with a mission! As she traipses through an overgrown city with a cat named Jelly Beans, Aria is on a fruitless search for an ancient relic with immeasurable power. But when a creepy savage sets her on a path to complete her quest, she’ll face death in the hopes of claiming her prize.
Review: Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Andrew MacLean’s ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times gives a good glimpse into what an apocalyptic world looks like and how a person would react when forced into it for a mission. Aria is stranded on a war torn planet. She constantly looks for signals, hoping that she may find the object and complete her mission. As she continues this search multiple enemies arise attacking her from multiple angles. It also doesn’t help that her machine, Gus, still is on the fritz. MacLean poses the question: can she complete her mission in time and get away from this hellish place?
It is clear that MacLean wants to focus more on the characters than the actual story. The story goes through the standard ‘look for object, obtain object, and then get home before time runs out’ story. This premise always occurs for apocalyptic series. Yet, even on this conceit, he manages to make it interesting. You feel like you want to know more about these tribes: why did they take this course of action, and who made the technology in the first place? Throwing all these questions and mystery together he gives us something to nibble on, as the main course of Aria and her cat, Jelly Beans, plays out.
Aria remarks on her relationship with Jelly Beans as a boyfriend/girlfriend scenario. To be fair, she’s not quite off the mark. Many people see animals at best as companions yet for many pet lovers there is something more than just a companionship. This thought holds up in the case with Aria and Jelly Beans. She will lean on Jelly Beans for emotional support such as her winding down on page 21. Aria carries this emotional support throughout the entire novel. It becomes apparent that her agency to complete the mission relies upon protecting Jelly Beans. In that sense, it does feel like a significant-other relationship and less so of a companion/owner relationship.
MacLean hits the right tempo for ApocalyptiGirl. While it will feel slow in the beginning it becomes more apparent why. MacLean wants to give a sort of measured pace so the readers can truly appreciate the efforts of Aria. It can be debated about the tempo but the intent is definitive. Having are you up go through the motions as she tries to find the artifact becomes impact full because of this pacing.
Having Gus as a metaphor for going home standardly works. Having Aria work up to getting Gus back into functionality, going through the struggles, helps to connote to the readers the reach of the mission’s success. Only issue is that it is very common for that technique to symbolize the success of the mission and the climax. While I don’t think it’s a bad thing, it certainly comes off as a bit standard and it would have been nice to see that mixed up a bit more.
Sometimes I felt the artwork was off. Proportions and facial animations felt more distorted than artistic. Detail emphasis seems to fluctuate as the book continued. At certain points, the art turned me off from the message. That’s not to say the style was bad, but I felt that there were certain points where the art style did not resonate with me, such as the hair cutting panel (not the locks), or in page 27 when Aria talks about the signal being weak.
For fans of Andrew MacLean, everything that validates his fandom is here, from artwork to storytelling. The feeling is more lukewarm for those getting to know his work. For those looking for a bit more depth beyond character development, ApocalyptiGirl will not satisfy that itch fully. But, Andrew MacLean’s ApocalyptiGirl An Aria for the End Times will satisfy those looking to sink their hands into a graphic novel, as it is accessible and well written.
Age Rating: 12+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: May 20, 2015