A reunion of college friends turns deadly in a graphic novel that spans decades and continents.
Olmos (A Modular Approach to Fault Tree Analysis, 1979, etc.) and debut illustrator Nichols pack a lot into their first graphic novel, which centers on members of Jabberwocky, a rock band formed in the 1970s by college friends in Boston. In 1996, a reunion concert takes place when former band members Esteban and Jonah, both Californians, visit Montreal, the home of the former lead singer, Celia Suarez. She used to go by “Leticia Mendez,” her middle names; following college, she returned to her native Central America, where she came from great wealth. She went on to acquire both a husband and a lover, the latter calling her “a corrupt rich little girl.” After leaving both men, she moved to Europe before settling in Canada. When the reunion concert in Montreal ends, she plans to move west with ex-lover Esteban. Instead, she winds up dead under suspicious circumstances in his hotel room. Esteban claims innocence but skips town, leaving Jonah to help solve the case by investigating Celia’s past. He discovers that the singer supported a revolutionary group—and that her rich family hated revolutionaries. The book repeatedly skips back and forth in time, and Nichols handles the sequential art skillfully. However, the quality of the art is inconsistent; many panels are stunning, but others look incomplete in comparison. It’s also jarring that some characters look like real-life celebrities; Esteban, for example, is a ringer for musician Jackson Browne, and police detective Martin Courant is the doppelgänger of actor Ben Kingsley. However, there are occasional renderings that make identifying a character a challenge, especially when a person errs and refers to him by the wrong name. The dialogue balloons often look misshapen and clunky, and there are occasional misspellings (“strickly”; “sevices”), uneven line spacing, and a continuity error that has the band reuniting after 22 years in one panel and after 25 in another.
An ambitious, fast-paced, but flawed debut.