Review – Unnatural #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Colour Assists: Gianluca Papi
Lettering: Fabio Amelia
Release Date: 4th July 2018

UNNATURAL, a creator-owned project from Wonder Woman artist Mirka Anfoldo, gets its long-awaited English language release this week, and right from the get-go it’s pretty obvious that this is a series which thrives on its contradictions.

At first glance it may appear to be a slice of flimsy cheesecake erotica, with a young pig girl having some fairly steamy dreams about a big, bad (and rather hunky) wolf.  Scratch the surface just a little however and you’ll find a surprisingly substantial story packed with all sorts of incredibly relevant real-world themes, chief among them a totalitarian government who have taken it upon themselves to decide which relationships are allowed and which are “unnatural.”

Leslie is an immensely likeable protagonist, struggling to reconcile her worrying fantasies with the harsh reality of the world she inhabits.  She hates her job, loves sushi, and spends the majority of this first issue trying to enjoy her birthday without being sidetracked by her illegal subconscious.  Granted, a lot of the supporting cast feel a bit like one-dimensional clichés so far, from the sassy roommate to the supporting gay best friend, but I’m hopeful that Andolfo can flesh these out into more than just mechanisms to push Leslie through her day as the series unfolds.

As you might expect, Andolfo injects some gentle humour into the proceedings with no shortage of bawdy moments throughout.  However, as I mentioned above, UNNATURAL is all about the contradictions, such as Leslie’s unintentionally risqué work uniform being met with callous co-worker body-shaming and some genuinely disturbing sexual harassment from her predatory boss, rather than just Carry On movie-esque tittering.  It’s an interesting contradiction that some people may find a little jarring, but which – for me, at least – really helps this book to stand out.

Adolfo’s artwork is of its usual high standard here, particularly during Leslie’s’s dreams, with the expressive, cartoony style of the ‘real world’ taking on an almost ethereal quality.  The gentle, pastel-shaded colours work well throughout, with only the intentionally garish “public service announcement” delving into a more traditional rainbow-coloured style.  The whole thing flows smoothly throughout, with Leslie’s expressions adding humour and drama in equal measure.

When we spoke to Mirka about the series back in June, she promised a blend of styles and genres from the series, and that assessment definitely seems to check out after this first issue.  We have hints of romance, fantasy, erotica, drama and mystery mixed together into a thoroughly enjoyable package, and while some of the points it’s trying to make are perhaps a tiny bit heavy-handed, it still ends up reading more like a fun comic book than a sermon.

Ultimately then, as a first issue, this feels like it does more than enough to get its hooks into the reader.  It’s going to be interesting to see how the story unfolds and whether the premise can sustain itself once we delve a little deeper into the mystery, but for now, beautifully rendered art, a brilliantly relevant premise and a thoroughly likeable protagonist make UNNATURAL an easy new series to recommend.

Rating: 4/5.

If you want to find out more about UNNATURAL, make sure to check out our interview with Mirka Andolfo by CLICKING HERE.


ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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