Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson
Release Date: 12th August, 2015
Get some headphones on, put on your favourite album and get this book read. In the Phonogram universe, Music is literally Magic. As someone whose life music has had a massive impact on from as early as I can remember, it has always been magic. It has been a way of transporting me into a different place, of making me remember old feelings, of making me forget new ones. It has made friendships and broke them just as easily, and it has made all of the mundane day to day shit seem that little bit more bearable.
Gillen describes Phonogram as all about aging, and that’s never more evident with this latest installment, as from the get0go we’re greeted with familiar – but definitely older – faces. This first issue is a smorgasbord of old and new faces alike, but with the same theme throughout, which is literally just that; aging. Gillen talks about the introduction of music videos and bands like White Stripes and that first time you see Ah-Ha’s “Take On Me” (which is one of the greatest videos of all time, by the way). I really don’t want to talk too much about the story here, as I don’t want to spoil anything for continuing readers, but for all you new readers that are on the fence about picking this one up, think of it this way; remember that one time you put that new album from your favourite band on and from start to finish it was just perfect and you got that tingly feeling down the back of your neck and the first thing you wanted to do when it was over was to immediately play it again? That’s what this issue was to me.
Jamie McKelvie deserves to take a bow for the work he’s done on this first issue as well. The subtle changes to the way characters have been aged isn’t just the lazy “add some weight there, put some grey through there, and give them all beards”. Instead, everything just looks right. From the way the streets look and the puddles reflect to the triumph in The Vox’s face, the art is 100% a pleasure to look at. The style is definitely there from the first Phonogram, but everything just seems cleaner and… neater? Lines are finer, faces more detailed, clothes are more stylised and I simply couldn’t wipe the smile off my face after that cliffhanger. Matt Wilson deserves some sort of medal for his work on the issue though, or at least a stiff drink, because the colour palette is absolutely incredible, with every bit of bold neon perfectly suited to the page, and every flash or flame standing out against the more muted tones.
I could go on pretty much indefinitely about just how much I loved this book. I haven’t even touched on all of the musical references (Peaches being the one I didn’t expect, and the first line of which may still be one of my favourite openers of all time), the back-up pages (which prove that curse songs really are a thing), the messed up opener and closer that seems to be the main storyline, or even just the character of Seth as a whole!
Music has always been magic to me. This book goes to show that comics can be too.