In Pizzolo’s stellar graphic novel—the first three issues of his debut comic-book series—an orphan boy braves a desolate, post-apocalyptic land in search of a heart for his sister.
Tommy Stark and his 14-year-old comatose sister, Lucy, live in an orphanage in a world that’s barely survived a nuclear holy war. The markets for clean blood and fresh organs are thriving, and Dr. West is ready to give up on Lucy to harvest her organs for profit. Tommy hopes to save Lucy by finding her a new heart, but tracking a couple of organ thieves takes him to Outer City, a savage region where undesirables crave his exceptionally clean blood. Dr. Mulciber, who has the power of insight, sees something special in the boy and enlists prostitute Halfpipe to help save Tommy from the likes of Beezal, a vicious pimp. There’s a lot going on in Pizzolo’s wonderfully bizarre story, but its most distinctive feature is a barren, nearly dead world. The outside world is filled with decrepit, abandoned buildings, and even characters’ bodies are in disrepair, adorned in lacerations and stitches. The people, too, are lost souls: Tommy defies the reputedly civilized Republic in Silver City and swears an oath to the Burnt, an order he’s only read about in comic books (he took a hot iron to the face, the corresponding bandage serving as a constant reminder of his want for independence). The decidedly adult novel features a good amount of sex and violence, though never in a typical fashion. Characters tend to walk away from bloody assaults, and sex isn’t always for personal gratification: Angelfuck, an organ thief, claims her orgasms are weaponized, and sexual indulgence for Mulciber unlocks his extraordinary gift. Wieszczyk and Templesmith’s artwork is enchanting and a true visual companion to Pizzolo’s story. Characters are etched in chaotic scratches as if carved in stone, and pages are saturated in a rusty hue, like the soot and dirt corroding the atmosphere. The ending, of course, saves plenty for the second volume.
Deftly unorthodox and wickedly delectable; not so much a story as an experience.