‘Karmen #1:’ Comic Book Review

Guillem March’s Karmen #1 is a wonderful curiosity. The design alone of our eccentric angel, Karmen, who is portrayed on the first cover by Milo Manara (You can see his influence on March’s work.) is remarkable, but it is her effervescent, over-the-top behavior that puts her on track with being one of my favorite depictions of afterlife beings - the other being Death from The Sandman. Yes, and we're only one issue into the series.

Karmen is here to look after a woman in her early twenties (Catalina) who doesn’t remember that she’s hurt herself. The first issue follows the two of them as they take their first steps into an ethereal adventure. Where it goes form here, I genuinely do not know, and that’s something.

March, a Spanish writer and artist, is a master of laying out a page. The story visually flows forward, and the panels tip and tilt, spiral and separate, bleeding together, capturing Karmen’s personality, capturing the emotions of the moment. Something this seamless, this effective, is incredibly difficult. You can see the care put into every image. His creative use of space is mind-boggling. This is a near-perfect experience.

The colors are also absolutely beautiful. Toned down, but vivid.

One on hand, you have this emotional story, but there’s also a metaphysical side to the proceedings. What are dreams? What defines us? What is our body? What is death? And even though characters may not ask many of these questions specifically, it is presented in the story, in the visuals, in the way that the characters react to what’s happening.

This is definitely a comic for a slightly more mature reader, as Catalina is without clothes for most of the issue, but the eye of the artist never ogles her like spandex-clad superheroes are sometimes ogled. It’s all very natural to being dead.

More than anything, I’m very curious where this might go. Karmen’s bubbly personality may just be surface level.


Creative Team: Guillem March (story and art), Tony Lopez (color assistant), Dan Christensen (translation), Jack Durieux (logo), Cromatik, Ltd (lettering image)
Publisher: Image Comics
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