(WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS, ADULT LANGUAGE, AND ADULT CONTENT AHEAD)
Girls, by the Luna Brothers, is over a decade old. The series was first published in 2005-2007, a total of 24 issues. Now the complete series can be read by Comixology Unlimted subscribers. I’m a little over half way through–I think I’m on issue 16, so here are my thoughts thus far.
Premise: Ethan is a city boy. He moved to Pennystown for a change of pace and took a job at the local grocery store. When he goes on a sexist tirade at the local tavern he ruins the good faith he’d build up over the last year or so. After being thrown out of the tavern, while sitting in the gutter he screams a primal “FUCK!” to the world and a giant boom shakes the town. It’s so loud, this boom, that it breaks windows, makes glasses fall off shelves, things like that. Typically, I wouldn’t bring up a character in the premise of a piece. The premise of any fantasy or science fiction story is typically independent of the characters, then the characters are added in and the author (and reader) see how this fantastical or scientific element makes them act. However, I think it’s important to start with Ethan because his sexist tirade, while literally unrelated to the subsequent events, is the metaphoric catalyst for this whole comic, as is his sexual frustration, having broken up with his girlfriend six months earlier.
When Ethan is driving home (yeah, he’s driving home drunk) he slams on his breaks when he sees a beautiful naked woman step out of the woods. He gets out of his car and covers her up with a jacket and tries to get some words out of her, but she won’t speak. He takes her home and makes her food. He tries to give her close, but she doesn’t seem to want to keep them on. She seduces him, even though she hasn’t said hardly anything, he doesn’t know her name, or where she came from. All he knows about her is how beautiful she is.
The next morning, when he wakes up, she is in the bathroom moaning as though she is sick. He goes to get help, finds the one, and only, police officer, Wes, and together they go to Ethan’s. When they open the bathroom door, the beautiful woman, still naked, has laid about a dozen eggs all over the floor. Some of them have grown really large, like armchair large. Then they begin to hatch and exact clones of the woman emerge. A crowd has gathered in front of Ethan’s. A bunch of townsfolks want Wes to kick Ethan’s ass for his sexist remarks the night before. But then the clone girls burst from the house and begin attacking the crowd. Later it is discovered that these beautiful clones only attack the women, trying to kill them. When Wes, the police officer, tries to evacuate the town, they are met by an invisible wall. They are stuck. It’s a bit like Under The Dome by Stephen King, but with egg laying supermodels that take only 12 hour gestation period. Furthermore, these women aren’t really people, either, they’re more like animals, they can’t speak their own words, they only mimic what they have heard in the last few minutes. They also eat the dead and small animals. It’s a clever twist on zombies, without being zombies.
Characters: This is where this comic REALLY thrives. While it all starts with Ethan he is, in no way, the sole protagonist. He may be the main character, more or less, but he certainly isn’t always the focal point of the emotional plots crisscrossing these pages. There are just a ton of characters in this series and they all have their own baggage, motives, personalities. At first, they seem like caricatures of people who’ve probably met, but the farther into this comic you go the more complex you’ll find everyone to be. The Luna Brothers are absolute geniuses in terms of visual storytelling. Characters who seem two dimensional at first end up making decisions that are interesting and surprising, but also feel completely rational and earned. I can’t stress how difficult it is to create characters that readers will say, “Wow I did not see that coming, but now that is has happened it makes total sense.” Characters in this comic make surprising decisions that feel inevitable. This is just a masterful piece of storytelling.
Themes and Subject: On the outside, this could be called literature of the absurd. The plot is bizarre, the images are wild and puzzling, the plot is addictive. But the truth this comic tells and the themes involved are much more literary.
This story focuses on much of the animalistic nature that we, as a society, deny ourselves. The desire to fuck indiscriminately, anyone we want, is not socially acceptable and is dangerous due to STDs. Many of the male characters in this comic know they shouldn’t find these alien egg laying women attractive, but they all do. Despite the fact that these women aren’t actually human and are trying to kill the human woman of the town–many of the men simply can’t resist the temptation of beautiful, and dare I say fertile, women. Women who have one purpose in life, to become impregnated. On a biological level, procreation and the survival of our species is the only point of existence. That’s what the girls in Girls represent. Survival. The drive to survive. The drive to eliminate genetic competition from the world.
Humanity is better off people to suppress our survival and domination instincts. Tribalism is normal. Living in harmony with people unlike you, from different backgrounds, cultures, and worldviews–that’s something new. It goes against the human-survivalist nature–the one that saw tribes kill and enslave each other, Europeans eradicate indigenous populations. It’s what pitted Athens against Sparta, The allies against The Axis, Capitalism against Socialism (because let’s face it, they can be married to good effect, but the two have had tribes form around them). While this can be seen on a huge scale it can also be seen on a much smaller one. Real Madrid vs Barcelona, Red Sox vs Yankees, Packers vs Vikings. That’s what this comic is really about when extrapolated.
Well, I’m not going to touch on the art in this post. I’ll save that for Part 2, once I finish the series. As of right now, entering issue 16, I would recommend this to anyone who likes complex characters and bizarre premises that touch on the deeper truths of human existence and nature.