It's gratifying to give a well deserved shout out to a graphic novel published by someone other than the big two. It's tremendously tough times for all print media and the comic industry is no exception, with that dire situation compounded significantly for smaller companies just trying to establish some presence in a shrinking market while still staying afloat. Throughout its brief existence, Aspen's main claim to fame is its relationship to the late, exceptionally talented Michael Turner, who is still greatly missed. He was a driving force behind their renowned dazzling female protagonists, with this book unabashedly following that same winning formula. Don't think sex is its only appeal however. While its fundamental spirit is robustly alluring and provocative, there is still sufficient depth and pathos, revolving around lead character Iris and the adverse circumstances of her youth, to give the book vital substance. In her arcane world, an executive assistant is one recruited at a very young age to not only serve their shadowy employer in traditional office matters, but also double as bodyguard and occasional assassin. She lives in a structured yet dangerous milieu of obedience and loyalty, even forsaking her own individual happiness in the process. While her personal surroundings have improved dramatically upon adulthood, she has alas discovered that a gilded cage is still confinement nonetheless. Not the desired life chosen for herself naturally, with that aspect being critical to her poignant tale. Add in ample action and intrigue, and the book clearly rises above its basic genre limitations. This series does end on a tantalizing cliffhanger, so the recent announcement of this summer's launching of volume two, in conjunction with a major event around the character, is welcome news indeed. So along with Aspen's other new, highly acclaimed title Lady Mechanika, things are currently looking quite promising for the company, a much needed shot in the arm for them and hopefully a positive harbinger for the entire industry as well.