Super Impressed by Supermarket
For someone looking for a swift, easy entry into the writing world of Brian Wood – Supermarket just might be the perfect portal. It’s short enough to be read entirely through in one sitting, and has some delightful commentary on society, commerce and the mentality of the rich, while providing a fun futuristic background and packing in a lot of action. Not to mention the gorgeously colored art by Kristian Donaldson.
Sure, there is a lot of Supermarket that isn’t well fleshed out, but for a four issue miniseries, the story covers a lot of ground. It easily does just as well as any Hollywood movie I’ve seen. If continuing comic book series are comparable to a television series, then graphic novels of this ilk are movies. And Supermarket makes for one kick-ass movie.
The story follows Pella Suzuki, a spoiled rich 16-year-old who comes home from her part-time job as a convenience store clerk to find her parents brutally murdered. She inherits a large fortune, but two organized crime syndicates are out to get it, and her.
Pella is a fantastic heroine. She is clearly concerned with global issues and people outside of herself – except she uses her part-time job to rip off the locals in the name of charity, while condemning coffee that doesn’t fairly compensate farmers, and driving around an electric converted vehicle. The contradictions work – a 16-year-old is FULL of contradictions (as are most adults). What is most intriguing about Pella is that she’s not morally pure. In fact, she starts off as moderately unlikable, which fits the profile for a spoiled rich girl. But the story and tribulations provide a decent arch for her – without sacrificing the witty edge that makes an adventure with her so endearing.
And yes – the art lines are delightful but it’s the sumptuous coloring that really makes the story pop and move across the panels. It’s colored with a pretty minimal palette, but the way in which the magentas, greens and oranges are utilized create a lovely frenetic energy which picks up along with the pacing of the plot. Even if the story weren’t as compelling as it is…I might pick up the book and leaf through it just for the awesome imagery.
I love Pella’s small breasts and big curvy hips. She is modestly rendered on the page, and even the shower scenes are devoid of any lurid stare. Also a personal favorite – the curly and fluid design of water, smoke and steam as depicted by Donaldson. It blends subtly into the page, but is striking enough to catch my eye on the panel. Seriously considering having some kind of tattoo with this sort of curling smoke depicted somewhere on my body.
The side characters aren’t nearly as articulated as Pella, but it’s not their story. One character in particular has a Deus Ex Machina vibe going on which felt pretty neutral for me. I didn’t love or hate it, and Wood was able to provide enough motivation for it to seem plausible. The inclusion of the god-like character seems more an agent of the tight story-telling which needed to occur, rather than laziness on the part of the author.
This is the first Brian Wood book I’ve been able to pick up and work my way through. I’ve checked out three other books from the library and none of them have enticed me enough to get past the cover. Now that I’ve had such success with Supermarket, I’m definitely considering picking up the acclaimed Demo. Anyone else have a favorite Wood book I should know about?