Plutona #1 won me over when the fat kid told the bully to fuck off.
At first glance, this new comic by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lennox looked like an all-ages, super-powered take on Stand By Me, where a diverse group of kids stumble across the body of a famous superhero (the titular Plutona). The art by Emi Lennox is cartoony and welcoming, with plenty of soft pastels and autumnal colors. The main characters are all in middle school, and at first they seem like a collection of teenage archetypes straight out of The Breakfast Club: the nerd (Teddy), the bully (Ray), the fat kid (Diane), the weirdo (Mie), the annoying kid brother (Mike). A few pages in, I thought I had a good idea what to expect.
But that started to change the moment Diane told Ray to fuck off. Suddenly, I wasn’t reading a book for kids–I was reading a book about kids. They were talking like real teenagers, not what adult writers think teenagers talk like. Each of the kids has his or her own unique voice, and while they may start out as stereotypes, they are already beginning to seem more real and developed: Diane is trying to find an identity for herself. Mie is kind of a shitty friend. Beneath the bright and accessible art there is an underlying darkness, visible in the flies crawling over Plutona’s body and the beer cans stacked by Ray’s unconscious father. Plutona isn’t quite what I expected, and I am looking forward to seeing more.
Also worth noting is Lemire’s work with panel layouts, so innovative and brilliant in Trillium. Although it is never distracting, Lemire’s play with the comics form helps develop the characters and story. For example, Lemire and Lennox introduce each of the four main characters in four consecutive pages with nearly identical layouts (the first, our introduction to Teddy, is above). Seeing their different lives presented in such a similar way highlights the differences and similarities between them, and effectively dumps readers into the middle of their often complicated lives.
Rating; 4 out of 5 stars