Review – Pirouette #1 (Black Mask Studios)


Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Writer: Mark L. Miller
Artist: Carlos Granda
Release Date: 8th October 2014

From the opening sequence where she violently, viscerally attempts to escape the constraints of her face paint, it becomes readily apparent that teenage circus clown Pirouette is a deeply unhappy girl. A lifelong member of the circus, she finds herself forced into the role of clown when all she really wants is the freedom and exhilaration of the flying trapeze. However, while this may – on paper at least – seem like the beginnings of an heart-warming Disney Movie, let me assure you right now that the bleak, unforgiving world which Pirouette inhabits is most definitely no Disneyland.

Writer Mark L. Miller has crafted a darkly unpleasant world to surround Pirouette’s Big Top home; a world filled with rivalries, tensions and shockingly brutal violence. Her mischievous nature and burning desire to be free – even if just for a few minutes on the trapeze – makes us instantly root for her, and while there are a few friendly faces in her adopted ‘family’, the vast majority of her fellow performers are both selfish and cruel. The story moves slowly during this first issue, with Miller preferring to introduce us to Pirouette and her world gradually rather than risking pushing things forwards too quickly.

Besides the Pirouette character herself, the main selling point to this series is undoubtedly the stellar artwork of Carlos Granda. Packing an impressive level of detail into his panels with some precise, measured linework, he crafts some truly impressive splash pages and double-page spreads, and the level of emotion he manages to convey on Pirouette’s painted face – ranging from horror to elation to quiet, subdued sadness – is worthy of the highest praise. The Comic En Linea Foundation provides the colours here, painting the world in a muted, washed out haze that echoes our protagonist’s inner pain. Make no mistake, folks, this is a visually stunning comic, and one that provides an extremely polished look at a decidedly unpolished world.

Overall, while it does feel a bit more like a prologue than the first chapter in an ongoing story, Pirouette #1 still does an admirable job of introducing a genuinely intriguing protagonist and giving us enough of a glimpse into her troubled life to help us become emotionally invested in what happens in her future. So while the pace is relatively restrained for the time being, as a well-rounded character study – not to mention an absolute visual treat – Pirouette comes highly, highly recommended.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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