REVIEW: Monika Vol. 1: Masked Ball

Behind a striking cover lies a book that tries hard to be greater than the sum of it’s  apparent influences; one part mystery, one part seduction, one part political story with a sprinkle of paranoia served with a touch of A.I.  That is quite a lot for any one issue to cover.

The titular Monika is an artist, looking for her long lost sister.  Her friend, the paranoid (for good reason), Theo puts her on the trail of new political party leader Christian Epson.  Intrigued by the prospect of learning the fate of her sister, Monika assume the identity of Kate, a blonde temptress who allows a variety of things and touches onto her body all to entice Christian, losing herself in the process of finding out what happened to Erika.

The fact that there is a “Christian” who is into a wilder side of sensuality will no doubt bring echoes of Mr Grey.  But whereas in the 50 Shades book, he was the seducer, here Thilde Barboni shows that the real seducer is Monika herself.  True,there are outside influences in play, but Monika seems happiest when she is someone else.  Barboni writes in a long hand kind of style, with certain inuendoes being drawn out rather than spelt out; any aspiring writer looking to hide a mystery inside a mystery should take note.  The dialogue is very whimsy in places, almost wistful.  Everything works well, with the only fly in the oinment being elements of the A.I, which serves as a distraction, at least in this book.  One thing to point about the book, it is translated from Barboni’s orignal language of French, which could explain some of the small oddities of the characters speech patterns.

Guillem March is a name more often used around characters such as Harley, Poison Ivy and Catwoman.  His style with those three garned a lot of praise and subsequent minor backlash on the New 52 Catwoman book.  Here, taken out of the superheroine limelight, he has created something sensuous, ethereal and quite simply put, utterly  entrancing.  You can not helped but be drawn into Monika’s world of confidence from within, bourne from an alter ID.  You can not help but her have your eyes langusih on her as she begins her journey.  Through March, you get the feeling of awe the Christian has when he first glimpses her, the power by which they both want and to extent need each other.  Does Monia love Christian or does Kate?  March’s curvaceous lines entice and tease, with the only thought seemingly to be the expression of emotion.  The intensity of the art does have an ebb and flow to it, blending seamlessly to the pace and passions of Barboni’s writing. The colors have a washed out water color style where bold reds and purples create contrast with pale backgrounds.

When I first looked at this book, I assumed it was just a sex book.  Certain critics will say the book is another “sexploitaton of women”. Whilst , sex does play a part in this, it is used here for means of experessing intense emotions.  The book has a strong female lead whose weakness, in this case the need to live as an expression of her art, gives her the strength of character to achieve her goals.

Writing – 5 Stars
Art – 5 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars

Monika Vol. 1: Masked Ball  
Writers: Thilde Barboni
Artists: Guillem March
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