Publisher: Image Comics
Story: Jeremy Haun, Jason A. Hurley
Art: Mike Huddleston
Release Date: 16th May, 2016
Well, dear reader, I have some good news and some bad news for you.
Firstly, the good – if you haven’t yet read the first volume of Jason A. Hurley and Jeremy Haun’s THE BEAUTY, have no fear, because with this new arc taking place before the events of the first, transporting us to the early days of the Beauty virus outbreak with a brand new cast of characters, there’s absolutely no prior reading required for you to jump in at this point.
Now to the bad – if the statement above applies to you, it means you haven’t read the first volume of Jason A. Hurley and Jeremy Haun’s THE BEAUTY, and really, that just makes me feel sad for you. So seriously, head on out to your local comic shop and snatch that bad boy up as soon as possible. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
The new arc introduces us to Timo, a hulking, no nonsense African American criminal. However, Timo wants to change his life, and in order to do this, he’s going to have to get a little bit creative, and just a tiny bit violent.
I’ll be completely honest here, while I was initially a little wary when I found out that Jeremy Haun would be stepping aside and letting a series of “guest artists” handle the visuals for this latest arc, one look at Mike Huddleston’s (THE STRAIN) work in the first few pages instantly reassured me that this issue was in safe hands. Huddleston adds a noticeable edge to Timo’s story, heavy on shadow and expression as the hulking three-hundred pound bad-ass puts his dangerous ‘master plan’ into motion. And what a plan it is.
Huddleston’s artwork is an absolute joy to behold during the brutal skirmish that dominates the early portion of the book, from the almost ‘X-Ray’-esque flash that accompanies breaking bones to the often shocking bluntness of the violence itself. You know how in some comics or movies, when something truly violent is happening like, say, a man’s head being stomped into a pulp on the ground, the camera will pan away and let our imaginations fill in the blanks? Yeah, that’s not what happens here. Huddleston takes great pleasure in forcing us to watch every stomach-churning moment, providing a bold, unapologetic look at the harsh reality of what we’re seeing.
The payoff to the issue is absolute genius, and provides a fantastic example of the sheer scope of the world Hurley and Haun have created. By jumping back to the early days of the Beauty virus and mankind’s initial reaction to it, they’ve opened the door for some truly fascinating stories, and this bleak, violent crime story is just one of those stories. The writing is so strong and so self-contained here, this issue would work equally well as a one-shot as it does as the first chapter of a brand new arc. Timo is a fantastically intriguing protagonist, and as he begins his new life at the end of this issue, it’s genuinely exciting trying to predict just what lies in his future.
On the surface, THE BEAUTY is a high-concept thriller about a virus that makes you beautiful, but scratch that surface just a little and you’ll find a rich, multi-layered world filled with intriguing characters and complex moral dilemmas. Hurley and Haun are taking great pleasure in exploiting the potential of their million-dollar premise, and if the subsequent guest artists perform as impressively as Huddleston, this is shaping up to be one hell of an arc. Highest of recommendations for this one.
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