Sugar Skull

Charles Burns. Pantheon, $23 (64p) ISBN 978-0-307-90790-5
Completing his trilogy that began in 2010 with X’ed Out and continued with The Hive in 2012, Burns brings the story of amnesiac Doug to a devastating conclusion. Only an artist of Burns’ precision and vision could keep all the plates of this dimension and time hopping tale spinning so smoothly. In the first two volumes we met Doug, whose story jumps back and forth in between his relationship with a girl named Sarah and his future as a pill-popping loser. Along the way his avatar, Nit-Nit, has surreal adventures in a bleak parallel world full of disgustingly pitiful creatures. In the final volume, the horrors pile up as the many careful symbols that Burns has set up in the previous 128 pages—a pig fetus, a mask, a Polaroid, a pink blanket—manifest into a nightmarish existence that Doug can’t escape from, whether it’s the real world, in which Doug’s attempts at a relationship are sabotaged by his break-up with Sarah, or his fantasy, in which we learn, in grotesque detail, just where those eggs seen on the cover of The Hive are coming from. Like Black Hole, this trilogy is a masterpiece of dread and wasted opportunity. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/08/2014
Release date: 09/16/2014
Genre: Comics
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