REVIEW: Monika Vol. 2: Vanilla Dolls

Issue two of this translated book from Titan Books carries on six months after the end of the first book.  Being as we have had to wait quite a while for this book,  you may well be served by taking some time to re-read the previous tome before heading into the next chapter of Monika’s life.

The book opens as Monika is released from a short jail sentence, picked up by her erstwhile partner in almost crime, Theo.  From there, quicker than you can say “fishnets and flirty fun”, she is thrust into a role of hiding herself with the use of make-up and very little else, impersonating eye candy that Monika, luckily, bears more than a passing resemblance.  Things get a little more complicated, with Theo at his conspiracy acute best and of course the addition of Phil, alluded to in volume one.  Phil isn’t the only holdover from the last book, with Monika’s lover again raising his head.

Written by Thilde Barboni, the story weaves its way through the idea of personal identity and the need for a connection.  Also thrown into the mix, is the discussion over what makes a soul.  These questions are underpinned by Monika’s past, where she was saved from a distressing role, with the possible impact of causing the loss of her sister’s soul.  Overall, it is a very wordy book, especially as these questions tend not to bring the easiest of answers, which will always be mired in shades of grey between right and wrong.

Guillem March provides the art which, like the first volume, can only be described as GORGEOUS! Yes, there is a sensuality about Monika and yes, there is plenty of flesh on show.  But to look at the book just for the idea of it being a skin book does a massive disservice to March’s work, whose work is so good, the book would read better without the dialogue.  The colors are a water coloured affair, with a washed out look that matches Monika’s mood throughout.  If you have only ever seen March’s work on books like Gotham City Sirens or Catwoman, then you are missing out on an artist that when unshackled from the yoke of corporate Big Two-ness, can deliver an outstanding piece of art.

I was so impressed by volume one, that I somehow disregarded that fact that lightning very rarely strikes twice.  Volume two is a much harder read, carrying with it an air of pretension that can bore as easily as entertain, with conclusions that can seem as contrived as the fact that within the first hour of release, Monika just so happens to be a likely candidate to act as the replacement dancer.  Still, the art is fantastic and is almost worth the price of admission alone.

Writing – 3 Stars
Art – 5 Stars

Written by Thilde Barboni
Art by Guillem March
Publisher: Titan Comics
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