Karmen

Guillem March, trans. from French by Dan Christensen. Image, $24.99 (184p) ISBN 978-1-5343-1988-2

March (known for drawing Batman) here delivers gorgeous artwork but shorts the character development in a quirky tale of a grim reaper named Karmen, whose emotional attachment to her work garners the disapproval of her spiritual colleagues. Karmen’s current assignment is Cata, a troubled young woman on the verge of ending her life when Karmen appears to collect her. What follows is a surreal journey through Palma de Mallorca, as the ghostly Cata floats naked through the city reflecting on her life, both unwilling to and too distracted by Karmen’s whiplash-fast shifts between crass humor and callous observations to accept the reality of her decision. The art gives weight to the softness of Cata’s body, with muted colors punctuated by shocking pops of red and yellow. But the dreamy ambience floats past disjointed script elements, leaving the parallels hinted at between the characters confusing (an info-dump gets delivered, for example, at the same time Karmen discusses a literal deus ex machina). Karmen explores the ripple effect one person’s intervention in another’s life can have on the wider world, but it’s all a bit too messy to settle on a satisfying character arc. Despite the hiccups, fans of March’s art will find it an entertaining enough modern twist on It’s a Wonderful Life. (May)
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