The first volume of Alisik opens with the lead character, a teenage girl, asking the reader, “Do you believe in love at first sight?” She says, but, “There’s one problem. I’m dead” (8). A pretty big problem considering that her love, Ruben, is alive. The catch is, he doesn’t know that she’s dead. He takes frequent short cuts through the graveyard she’s buried in since his accident left him blind. Other humans can’t see or hear Alisik or her undead companions, but Ruben can.
While Alisik frames the wrong side of the tracks love story as the center of the story by opening and closing the first volume with it, the world is what’s really remarkable. There are five other “post mortals” waiting with Alisik—Ottie, General, Frings, Hothead, and Pointy Head. They try to explain to Alisik what’s going on, but all they know is, “We’re no longer living, but haven’t made our final journey yet” (41). There’ll eventually be a judgement on whether each of them belongs in the good place or the bad place. Much of this volume is dedicated to establishing the rules that Alisik and the others must follow, which they break frequently.
It also spends time establishing the other characters. Alisik’s memory are coming back to her slowly, but her companions have been waiting much longer in this purgatory. In this volume, Ottie shares the story of her sins. The other characters will likely share their own in future volumes.
The art is fantastic. The character designs, by artist and co-writer Helge Vogt, are superb. They’re drawing frequent comparisons to Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and with good reason. They’re cartoonish and macabre in the same way as Burton’s characters. Except for Alisik.
Vogt draws Alisik as a teenaged girl and proceeds to sexualize her. For a narrative to have a perverted character, as Alisik does in Frings, harass a teenage girl, isn’t necessarily a problem if the narrative takes the time to address the fact that what Frings is doing is wrong. But the way Vogt draws Alisik changing her clothes when she and Frings go to the mall suggests that the narrative and Vogt are also getting off on Alisik, a teenage girl, changing her clothes. It’s unacceptable, especially when coupled with a Disney-esque style of storytelling complete with song and dance routines.
There would be issues if Alisik was an adult as well with the male gaze being what it is in comics and film, but Alisik is still a child. The things that Hubertus Rufeldt and Vogt do well don’t outweigh the objectifying way that they portray teenage girls.
Alisik Collection, Vol. 1 will be available from the Statix Press imprint of Titan Comics July 17, 2018.
Wicked Rating: 4/10