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‘Absolution’ TPB (review)

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mike Deodato Jr.
Published by ‎ AWA Studios

Every so often, I note in my reviews when a graphic novel seems particularly cinematic. That is, it’s paced more like a movie and with visual angles akin to top notch cinematography.

Absolution is yet another one of those books, and even if I hadn’t noticed it myself, I couldn’t miss the fake film posters that open every chapter.

Absolution is the story of Nina, a mohawked female assassin whose exploits are being constantly livestreamed as she attempts to earn enough points for absolution. Should she fail in her televised tasks, surgically-inserted little bombs in her body will detonate. This acts as an incentive for her to be as creatively violent and showy as possible so as to get voted up by viewers and fans, not down.

What is absolution? I’m not certain I ever quite got that…but clearly, it’s a goal preferable to death from within.

Presumably, all the little bombs would be deactivated and removed. Nina has no problem with the carnage she is creating as she goes, convinced that she’s ridding the world of evil men.

Following along live, though, are various color commentators in a talk show format, some of whom argue and philosophize against the very voyeuristic aspects that both Nina’s followers—and if you think about it, readers of this book—are enjoying.

Created by 2000 AD legend Peter Milligan and veteran Marvel artist Mike Deodato, Jr, along with brilliant uses of color credited to Lee Loughridge, Absolution doesn’t really have much of a plot or much characterization and yet it works in almost every way as adult entertainment. The wrestling fan mentality concepts of the livestreamed posters are reminiscent of Ed Piskor’s ultra-violent and yet utterly compelling series about the Dark Web, Red Room. A major difference here is the futuristic setting and, of course, the highly professional polish this one has.

Deodato’s personalized photo-realistic art techniques showcase the best ways for a comics artist to utilize such tricks, making the viewer want to linger on certain pages just to enjoy the layouts or the backgrounds. There’s one stunning page of Nina on a fire escape that I keep going back to!

Another aspect of the heavy use of photo reference and retouching is that one can recognize a few famous faces among the book’s cast, including Woody Harrelson, Bruce Willis, and Gerard Depardieu. Well, it isn’t QUITE them, as the artist has just used them as starting points to create his own original characters.

A cover blurb compares Absolution to the Hunger Games, Battle Royale, and The Running Man, and while I concede all of those comparisons, to me, this book feels original enough to be appreciated solely on its own merits.

And I do appreciate Absolution.

Booksteve recommends. 


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