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KARMEN #1 review – Hauntingly Beautiful (March, Lopez, Christensen, Durieux, Cromatik) Image Comics

  • Writer and Artist: Guillem March
  • Color Assistant: Tony Lopez
  • Translation: Dan Christensen
  • KARMEN Logo Design: Jack Durieux
  • Lettering Image: Cromatik, Ltd

Thanks to Image Comics for the review copy!

KARMEN manages to tell a sad story with plenty of bittersweet humor. The title character (as shown on the issue’s cover) is a mysterious and somewhat mischievous redhead with a human head and skeleton body. While it is her book, Karmen is largely relegated to the role of a tour guide. This issue primarily is about Catalina, another redhead who seems to be having a hard time.

After a trippy philosophical opening page, the story picks up 20 years ago, introducing us to Catalina and her friend Xisco. The story deftly gives us a feel for their friendship with minimal exposition. The most interesting sequence doesn’t even feature either of them on the page, but speaks volumes about their relationship.

KARMEN is essentially a sad story, but it is filled with funny moments that keep it from being too depressing thanks to the wit of the title character. She seems to approach a bad task with warmth, which makes her little acts of kindness stand out even more. Obviously, given the title of the book, we will be seeing more of Karmen. I’m curious to see if Catalina’s story will also continue, or if Karmen will interact with a new primary character every issue.

The design of the issue is visually striking. As the cover indicates, from the head down, she’s a skeleton but with the outline of a body, making it look like she’s wearing a skeleton suit like the ones in the Saturday Night Live David S. Pumpkins sketch. Given the complexity of a human skeleton, it is a marvel to see the movement the artists are able to depict. This level of detail extends to throughout the book, from the complex bathroom tiling to a patterned apartment carpet. This issue also features some creative paneling, with panels that twirl around the page like a roll of film being unfurled. 

KARMEN is rated M for mature, and it earns it with nudity (a character is basically naked the whole issue), cursing, blood, and a heavy subject matter. While it can be quite sad, it also has lighter moments, and at times is quite hopeful. The book takes some touchstones from popular culture (and winkingly drops a reference to one), but at the end of the day, it is quite original.

KARMEN #1 is set for release on March 10, 2021.

Check back in a few weeks for my review of the 2nd issue of the series.

Are you going to pick up the issue? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

Darren Shulman
Darren Shulman
Darren is a professional lawyer and amateur movie/comic/TV reviewer who is lucky enough to have found a wife who is into the same geeky things he is. Darren has been making the trip from Ohio to San Diego Comic-Con since 2009. Other interests include, in no particular order: monkeys, LEGO, dinosaurs, and playing basketball poorly.

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