Teen angst is always fascinating, maybe because it takes us back to the source of where we all began – not life itself but really living, dreaming, wondering, thinking, feeling. The raw emotion, the crazy ups & lows of that time never seem to repeat the same way again. And perhaps in some secret corners of our heads, we still wonder what would have happened if we’d snapped at any one of the extreme moments. These two comics I read back to back, both have to do with teenage angst metamorphosing into extreme crime. I found both sickening and fascinating in equal measure.
Two teenage geeks break into their school cafeteria brandishing guns. Several people die, some suffer mental instability afterwards, one of the perpetrators collapses and the surviving one is sentenced to 50 years of hard time. In jail however, a different story of him unwinds.
Why did a harmless, ‘nice boy’ like him end up at the right end of a gun in a high school shootout? How did his companion really die? Why does he seem to be a trouble-magnet even in jail? And how does he stay alive, and what’s more, unblemished throughout? The answer lies with a forgotten Sumerian war goddess.
Full of eye-poppingly colourful characters, sublime plot twists and edge-of-seat action, the 50 years are gone before you know it. Ethan Harrow’s story is the kind of story that makes comics/graphic novels take literature a few notches higher.
If you think the title gives away the plot, it doesn’t. That’s just the beginning.
A schoolgirl feels trapped in her safe, clean life. The local bad boy rescues her from her ennui one day. He proceeds to disintegrate life as she knows it, starting with the point-blank murder of her boyfriend. From there, they quickly spin into a world of anarchy.
What makes this teen angst-turned-crime caper different is how close to home her personal reflections hit. You think “That’s me!” and then realize she’s just murdered a guy, just because. The book is liberally peppered with such lines as,
“So I thought, why not? I want to be a wildchild before it’s too late.”
“I know what you’re thinking. Rebellion is all very well but does it really include becoming a blonde bimbo? What you have to understand is that I’m not real anymore. I’m just a figment of his imagination. I’m no longer responsible.”
Move over Sylvia Plath, Esther Greenwood (The Bell Jar) just got hip.
Tagged: Bell Jar, Book review, Books, Brian Hurtt, Bullying trauma, Comics, Dionysius, Esther Greenwood, Ethan Harrow, Geeks being bullied, Goodreads, Grant Morrison, Graphic novels, Jail time, Kill Your Boyfriend, Lure schoolgirl into crime, Steve Gerber, Sumerian goddess, Sylvia Plath, Teen ennui, Teenage angst, Teenage criminals, Teenage delinquent, The Bell Jar