Spill Zone, by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland

Review copy provided by First Second Books.

The cover of this graphic novel says only the two names listed above, but the title page has, in smaller letters, “colors by Hilary Sycamore.” Comics are almost always a group endeavor, but this is the first time I have specifically wanted to mention the color work as making the book. The nature of the story is such that having psychedelic, violently variable colors strongly reinforces it, to the point where I’m not sure this story could exist in black and white. Well done, Hilary Sycamore.

This is clearly the first volume of a series. The story ends on a cliffhanger and doesn’t do all that much besides setting up the characters and scenario. Regular readers of comics/graphic novels may be used to that; it’s not something I really like. I also found that the tropes it leans on (non-verbal child character, creepy doll, “haunted” hospital) had not, as of the end of this volume, been revitalized into feeling like something new and special here.

I did think that the idea of Addison attempting to use her camera to document the horrors her family had endured was a cool one. She seemed to approach it far more in that vein than as an artist, but the spectrum of documentary photography to art photography is an interesting one anyway. I’m interested in a heroine who wants to shoot monsters in a non-fatal way–I just wish we’d gotten more of the story to see more of that.

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