Number Ones: Sky*Doll

by Bill

They’re brand spankin’ new series and number one first issues! But are they any good? Worth spending money to buy and time to read?

Featured this round is the first offering from Marvel's collaboration with French publishers Soleil Comics, Sky*Doll #1 by Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa.

How good is Sky*Doll? Decent? Maybe even genius (er...I mean genious)? Read and find out....

Sky*Doll #1 (Marvel Comics , Marvel/Soleil Comics, and Soleil Comics) – by Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa

January 25, 2008 Marvel and French comic publisher Soleil announced a joint publishing venture. Soleil Publishing was established 15 years ago by Mourad Boudjellal. Soleil is now the third largest French comics group (after Dargaud/Dupuis/Lombard and Glénat/Vents d'Ouest). What makes Soleil a big deal aside from the venture with Marvel Comics is the familiarity several of Soleil’s creators have with American audiences: Humberto Ramos , Skottie Young, Teddy Kristiansen, Francisco Herrera, Richard Isanove, among others.

Sky*Doll is a Mature Content series written, drawn and colored by Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa. In addition to their comic collaboration, both are also Disney artists and creators of the animated television series W.I.T.C.H.
(an abbreviation of the first letters of the main characters' names: Will, Irma, Taranee, Cornelia, and Hay Lin).

Sky*Doll is a varied offering – a science fiction setting, but with healthy influence by politics, religion, and psychology. The science-fiction tends more toward anthropomorphic aspect of sci-fi. This lends easily to the myth aspect of Sky*Doll as anthropomorphism often refers to the perception or interpretation of the divine in human (or human-like) form. As such, the science is more background and environment with religion, morality and sexuality more prominent to the story.

More subtle, but a critical element of the story, is each character’s own journey of self-discovery and their place in the universe. For the title character, a robot, it is first discovery of more pronounced self-awareness, desire for an identity and self-reliance, but being trapped in a body requiring someone else to power life every 33 hours. As a robot, the life-span is measured in 33 hour bursts, and if someone is not available to place the key and wind power back up, the body will fail.

Permeating Sky*Doll are variations on the conflict of self-sufficiency against more powerful entities exerting control. Whether this is moralistic superiority or political supremacy, the Sky*Doll cast of characters face personal battles as well as larger societal tensions. Barbucci and Canepa are clearly working with a complex canvas of ideology and ambition.

Artistically Sky*Doll is equally complex as whimsical. Each panel is filled with detail, atmosphere and character. A universe has been created and is in full explosive crescendo page after page. Experimental and colorful Sky*Doll is reminiscent with Ralph Bakshi, Heavy Metal, and American Flagg. Barbucci and Canepa restrained nothing and offers readers a tantalizing array of page design, panel arrangement and masterful imagery.

In many respects the kinetic energy of the pictures supports for the ambition of the story, but allows for the reader to not be completely overwhelmed. Certainly many pages require readers to marvel at what has been created, but the pause is pure enjoyment.

Nevertheless, Sky*Doll demands much of readers. Foremost is suspension of belief for the anthropomorphology. Outside of the cute Disney or Pixar talkie-animals, serious literate attempts using non-human characters still defies widespread acceptance. Despite the science fiction aspect which suggests readers are ready to dismiss their ethnocentrism, the sales history of Hepcats, Cerebus, Howard the Duck and even the brilliant Pride of Baghdad never reach the readership numbers the critical acclaim would suggest. Coupled with the sophisticated commentary on religion and politics along with the sexuality and nudity, Sky*Doll offer a lot to alienate even the most willing of readers.

Hopefully this will not the case. Sky*Doll deserves to be read.

As the inaugural launch in the Marvel/Soleil venture, Sky*Doll represents something unlike anything Marvel Comics has published (a close equivalent possibly found within Epic Illustrated Magazine from decades ago). It is also a rare opportunity for the American comics readers to experience a commentary on the human condition in a unique storytelling execution. This is a comic to be savored, re-read, examined, discussed, and allowed to permeate into the thoughts of readers. If future titles are as profound and brilliantly executed as this title, readers will be for the poorer having to buy and the richer in having read.

$5.99. A+/Astonishing; Bad Genius, very highly recommended.

No comments: