By Jarred A. Luján — Let me start off by just saying that Magdalene Visaggio is one of my favorite writers. Eternity Girl (a Young Animal comic that featured art by Sonny Liew) absolutely blew me away. I know this is a review for Marilyn Manor, but if you haven’t read that comic, consider going to your shop, slamming your fist on the counter, and demanding a copy of Eternity Girl. I’m fairly certain you’ll be grateful you did.
So yes, I’m a fan of the writer of this comic, and coming into it, I had a favorable opinion of Visaggio and her work. I’d also like to note that Marley Zarcone is a consistently great artist and another veteran of Young Animal, having drawn Shade: The Changing Girl. Anyway, even with all this in mind, I was sort of hesitant to read this book, and that hesitancy was 100 percent about the concept.
Here’s the solicit text:
Where were you in '81? When the White House goes dark for 17 days in August, the president's spoiled daughter and her best friend Abe-who claims to be possessed by the spirit of Abe Lincoln-throw a rager at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, unearthing long dead historical figures and government secrets that are better off buried. Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll séances, and secret passageways lead to time-bending mystical romps where past and present collide. But at what cost to Marilyn Kelleher, the world at large, and music television?
On the surface it didn’t seem quite like my kind of thing, but I’m always one to trust a good writer/artist team to pull through.
And pull through they did! This book is delightfully weird in a way only these creators could deliver. It’s also just really well told. There’s a natural escalation of oddity in this book, one that goes from introducing a panicking chief of staff right to giving us the protagonist’s best friend...who is also possessed by the spirit of Abraham Lincoln…yes, you read that correctly. That’s what I like about the book (and VIsaggio as a writer) the most: it feels like a Foucauldian rebellion against the concept of “normal” and I love it (look, Mom, I’m using my philosophy degree!).
Zarcone’s artwork (with colors by Irma Kniivila) is fantastic as well. I think my favorite visuals are the rooms the girls move within during the story. Marilyn Manor #1 is also set in the ‘80s, and the setting feels perfect, with little notes of personality displayed throughout. In my reviews I maybe have a tendency to get really zeroed in on one or two pages of art I can’t look away from, and it was the intricacies of the rooms in this comic that caught me this time.
The most intriguing part of Marilyn Manor, however, is that it leaves readers with a significant amount of uncertainty going forward. Zarcone and Visaggio have created a world where we have little to no idea what to expect, but shouldn’t that be our favorite kind of storytelling? I know I for one enjoy it quite a bit.
Overall: This excellently-bizarre little comic looks like it will shape up to be a sincerely fun ride. I know I’m ready to rage on to Marilyn Manor #2. 8.5/10
Marilyn Manor #1
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Marley Zarcone
Colorist: Irma Kniivila
Letterer: Jane Heir
Publisher: IDW Publishing - Black Crown
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Jarred A. Luján makes comics, studies existential philosophy, and listens to hip-hop too loudly. For bad jokes and dog pictures, you can follow him on Twitter.