“STRANGE GIRL OMNIBUS” (Graphic Novel Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on August 21, 2011

Darkly humorous and terrifically edgy, STRANGE GIRL OMNIBUS (Image Comics) is a fantastic masterpiece highly recommended to readers. The Rapture has arrived and has taken the most faithful up to the sky. With the rest of humanity left behind, demons have taken over in just one swift move. After 10 years of Hell on Earth, an occultist and her pet demon embark on a road trip to find the last gateway to Heaven. This extensive collection brings together the critically acclaimed comic hit, from start to finish, in one massive volume.

Bethany Black was just a young girl, experiencing the wonders of her first crush, when the Rapture began. The most faithful followers were lifted up from their feet, and flown off into the bright white skies. As Bethany raced to her mother, her mom was whisked away, right in front of Bethany’s eyes. Along with her neighbor, Bethany hid in a fallout shelter, hoping for their parents to return and save them. Now living in a nightmare, demons have taken over and enslaved humanity.

After 10 years as a slave, Bethany wakes up to another gorgeous day in Hell. There is always fire in the sky, as demons and humans walk side by side on the streets. Tired of working for the tyrannical ruler Belial, Bethany steals a page from his spell book and runs off with Bloato, a foulmouthed but good-hearted demon. On a road trip across Hell, Bethany and Bloato travel the lost highways in search of salvation. You see, there’s a secret gateway to Heaven that no one knows about. Together, the two steal motorcycles and a Cadillac to reach their far destination. But in order to make it to Heaven, they have to get past the worst of humanity, who are even scarier than the demons. Before Bethany gets there, can she make peace with God for taking her family away?

Author Rick Remender has crafted an epic tale with social commentary and hilarious dark humor. In the middle of the action, Remender stops and lets the main characters speak through their personalities, expressing their thoughts. Plagued with doubts, Bethany has lost faith in herself after losing her parents. She questions God’s motives and wonders what she will say when she meets him. Bethany ponders universal questions about blind faith, asking what spirituality truly means.

Readers will be blown away by the exaggeratedly stylish artwork of Eric Nguyen. Bethany’s character design is provocative and punkish. Though Bloato is pint-sized, he comes across very animated as the comic relief. Hell on Earth is filled with neon signs, sex shops and gargoyles. Nguyen seems to have had lots of fun drawing Bethany and Bloato as they swerve around in their Cadillac, dodging tough bikers and flying demons. And the pages jump to life because of Joelle Comtois’ brilliant use of primary colors. Thought provoking and action-packed, STRANGE GIRL OMNIBUS shouldn’t be missed!