You know that phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Lies, you should absolutely judge a book by its cover, and what you instantly see before opening the contents of a book is represented by the only face it has. To prove it to you, look at the series Beauty, and don’t lose sight of the irony of what I’m telling you.
I fell in love with the story of Beauty from the very first issue. It was such an interesting and in-your-face take on the way we perceive people, and society’s way of being hellbent on looks versus anything else about a person. In the first story arc, we were introduced to a virus that made people beautiful, meaning society’s perception of beauty. In shape, clear skin, no scars, etc. But that all came with a price, and the main characters were on a journey to fight against an evil pharmaceutical company, all while racing against time. The ending of the first arc left me wanting more, and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to become of the world I had gotten so deeply indulged in.
When I eagerly picked up Beauty #7, it was a bit confusing. Seemingly in the same world as the first trade, I read the entire issue with nothing really making sense. As I read issue after issue, and wrapped up the second trade, I was severely. Fucking. Disappointed. First of all, the story is completely separate than the first arc, and seemingly came out of nowhere. These characters had not even been hinted at previously, and even though I did enjoy reading about a brave woman’s story, it did not hold up to the first arc at all.
In this trade, the main character is a transwoman that cannot find her place in life, and is always searching for somewhere to really thrive in as a person. She meets a man named Parks and goes on to work for him, and by work I mean kill people, and other things that revolve around that sort of mobster-esque lifestyle. The beauty is hinted at here and there, but has no impact on this story whatsoever, other than is being said that Ez feels beautiful now. The fact that a transwoman actually feels like she belongs in her body, and even feels beautiful at that, is an amazing thing to read in a comic book. But this is supposed to be a world where this sexually transmitted disease kills you in a gruesome way without warning. I sort of get what Jeremy Haun and Jason Hurley were going for with narrating a completely different side of this world, but it was just too distracting from the original concept that the entire arc fell apart. In fact, it would be more apt to call this its own series because it is so different than the original work of art that was issues #1-6.
Let’s talk about the art…The awful art. Yes, I said it, and if you’re going to tell me that this trade is a continuation of the original series, I’m going to keep comparing it. Jeremy Haun served as artist as well as writer on the original, but this trade has three different artists. Mike Huddleston introduces us to this world that is supposedly the original one of Beauty with issue #7, which actually does have the look and feel of the previous trade. It’s Brett Weldele’s hand in issues $8-10 where things went downhill really fucking fast. The characters are sketchy, and they look extremely lazily done, as if he just decided that the storyboard sketches were good enough and printed the damn thing. The issue is littered with small water droplet spatters and tea stainings; you know, “artsy” shit. I normally wouldn’t have such a problem with this, but it’s so obvious they were trying to do something to really bring home the “ooh, this story is like, so gritty, ooh” factor. Without those photoshop bits and pieces, it would be too obvious that the artwork is indeed nothing but pure laziness. Draw a fucking eyeball, dammit. How hard is it? Stephen Green who did the finishing issue #11, had the unfortunate task of trying to sparkle a turd and bring a good ending to a frankly ugly story. He did flesh out the characters and attempt to actually make them look like people instead of stick figures, but by this time it was far too late. John Rauch is the colorist in the entire trade and I just don’t fucking get that. Consistency isn’t a dead concept, please stop strutting around like it is.
I am just so disappointed, can you tell? So let’s move on to something in this trade that was actually wonderfully: the fucking covers. All of them are amazing, and I feel that at least the front page and variants of this series are tried and true amazingness. They are abstract, adult, and strangely sexy that take you to a place that picks at your brain. This is what Beauty should be, and what it was before all of this mess. These covers are pieces of pure artwork that need to be seen, and I feel that I’m going to keep picking up this series merely for the covers if it continues on this rollercoaster of pure suckage.
So, there you have it. I have no idea why this “arc” was such a damn clusterfuck, but it was. I think what makes me even more saddened and disappointed is that I really liked the protagonist, and she was a lot more unique that anyone we’ve ever seen in Beauty before. The fact that such a kick ass character can get overwhelmed and swallowed by tired out tropes,horrible artwork, and bland as unseasoned food writing is just a pity. Let’s cross our pinky toes that Beauty will go back to the fantastical piece of pseudo-horror that it once was, and if it continues on this path, and least we have the covers.
Artwork: 2 Stars
Story: 2 Stars
Colors: 2 Stars
Cover: A million fuckin’ Stars
Story: Jason A. Hurley, Jeremy Haun
Art: Brett Weldele, Mike Huddleston, Stephen Green
Cover: Jeremy Haun, John Rauch