Karmen has a lot of fantastic art. Guillem March is doing combination realistic and supernatural—a young woman has just committed suicide and her death guide (the title character) comes along to start her reorientation to the next world. There’s something very ethereal about the art, even when it’s gloomy.
But the writing—which is translated—is quite good too. March doesn’t open the comic with the protagonist in the present, but in flashback, establishing her through her best friend. Only the best friend is a dude and as they age it becomes a problem for her friend’s new girlfriends; March does a really quick recap of it all, nicely executed.
Then in comes Karmen, who’s in a skintight skeleton costume—or is it a costume—and the issue proper gets underway. But at no time do we really get to meet the lead character (whose name is Cata) because she goes from being March’s subject in the flashback to Karmen’s subject in the present.
The second half of the book is a lot of talking heads (again, impressive translation) and walking around the city because no one can see them; good, because Cata’s apparently going to be naked since she killed herself in the bathtub, but awkward because Cata doesn’t know she’s dead. She thinks she’s dreaming, which just makes the whole thing more tragic.
March’s most impressive move as artist isn’t not ogling Cata but it’s one of his most impressive moves. It’s always for arts sake, an adult—but not adult adult—Little Nemo at times.
The issue stops rather than ends—I think Karmen was a single volume in France on original publication—and no one seems worried about how or where to end an issue. Based on this one anyway; maybe they’ll figure it out, but even if they don’t, Karmen’s off to a great start. March’s taking his time on the characters, which hopefully will still be worth it after twists and turns.
But until those foils start showing up, the only problem in the comic so far is the abrupt finish. Otherwise, it’s excellent.