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Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling and horrific graphic novel about urban alienation, 9 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Black Hole (Hardcover)
Set amongst high school students in a fictional mid-70s Seattle, this is a compelling and horrific graphic novel about urban alienation, teenage despair and the ways in which fear can spread through a community.

Charles Burns uses the metaphor of plague - a mysterious, AIDS-like illness which spreads through sexual contact, with horrifying results. The changes contagion brings are individual - often seeming to echo the carrier's own fears or hidden traits. One boy develops a second mouth which always tells the truth; an infected girl learns to shed her skin like a snake.

As with the shapeshifting feats of traditional comicbook superheroes, it's unclear whether catching the bug is a curse or a blessing in disguise. New powers accompany the loss of normality, although the consequences vary according to the character's moral integrity. There's a Freudian dimension to all this, too; sometimes the transformations of the disease are nightmare echoes of the physical changes of adolescence, the fears of infection a kind of amplified sexual neurosis.

Against the weight of all this metaphor, the sub-plot involving a series of murders almost seems extraneous. Nevertheless, this is a good buy: originally serialised in twelve parts and appearing over the course of a decade, this new edition brings the entire story together along with Burns' darkly beautiful black-and-white illustrations.
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Location: Scotland, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,748