Reviewer: James Hatton
Story Title: Breaking Up.
Written by: Brian Wood
Art by: Becky Cloonan
Publisher: AIT/Planet Lar
Demo is a book that is what our happy little comic book world needs more of. Good storytelling. I will lay out the basic concept before we get to this issue specifically.
Each issue of Demo is a self-contained story. There are no overlapping characters. There isn’t even anything more than a hook that ties these books together. The hook is that each story relates to something more ‘Super’ than us. Sometimes it is a power that a character possesses. Othertimes it’s more of a paranormal ‘thing’, Brian Wood has left it vague.
The amazing thing about Demo, is as you read more and more of these stories, you realize that these are small pieces about people and how they deal with the world around them. Not saving the world, or a damsel in distress, at least not in the conventional way. It’s a book about human beings reacting to their world. Something that Brian Wood writes very VERY well.
This issue is entitled ‘Breaking Up’ which is quite the perfect name for it you see, as it is the tale of a young man and young woman breaking up. Shocker, eh? The treatment of it though is so real, you surpass watching these characters – you begin to feel them. It’s the most empathetic comic book I’ve ever read.
Yes, these dumb post high-schoolers are tempermental, occasionally idiots, seemingly aggressive, unerringly young and naive, and 100% real. You might despise them for that.
The ‘special’ spin in this issue is that our guy has a photographic memory. Every detail of every moment is remembered in his head. Which is a useful skill when you are trying to think hard about everything that’s gone wrong. Think of it as the big flashback scene in a romantic comedy, except all of it pertaining to the negative aspects of what has gone on.
If you’ve never had to hold back that urge to punch – if you have never shared a beautiful moment only to have it crushed by some offhand stupid comment – if you’ve never lost those feelings for someone… this book is going to make you yearn to know, because the emotion pulses through the dialogue.
Marvel and DC will never have any part in a book like this. Which is good, because these characters will never be superheroes. They’re too realistic for that.
Becky Cloonan is Brian Wood’s constant partner in crime. She has done the art on every issue of this book, as well as a few other Brian Wood books. (Most notably Jennie One) I’ve noticed that she has had exceptionally strong issues on Demo, and there were a couple of issues that it didn’t seem as strong.
I don’t blame her, as each book tries to have it’s own vibe and feeling, and Cloonan alters her style just enough to try and change with it. This issue though, is on again. Every aspect of these people’s lives are obvious through each panel. Just make sure to look into these character’s eyes. Becky has put everything into their eyes.
As a neat sidenote, at the end of each issue Wood & Cloonan put a mixtape/cd. I generally think that they are the music they listened to while creating this issue in specific, or possibly a compilation of music that is the ‘songs to read by’ Either way, it’s a great hook.
Demo, as a book, is the type of thing people should be talking about. It’s a strong story month after month, and deserves any kind of acclaim it can find. Do yourself a favor, and give it a shot.