Book review

Review: The Only Living Girl #1: The Island at the Edge of Infinity – David Gallaher & Steve Ellis (illustrations)

72 pages| Papercutz| Kids/YA/Teen/Sci-fi Comic

I received an ARC of this comic book via NetGalley.

The digest: Enjoyable artwork and cool character design, but probably only worth a look if you’ve read the previous series (The Only Living Boy).

From the book’s Goodreads page:

“Zandra ‘Zee’ Parfitt is one of the last human survivors of a cosmic disaster that merged hundreds of planets into the mysterious patchwork wasteland of Chimerika. After learning that the experiments of her late father, the diabolical Doctor Once, created this world, Zee and her companions — classmate Erik Farrell and mermaid warrior Morgan — embark on a dangerous quest filled with robots, monsters, unknown civilizations, and unlikely allies. Together they push back against the relentless Consortium, who want control of this new world at any cost. Through it all, Zee searches for the truth of her past so she can redeem her father’s legacy.”

What did I like?

  • The art style is quite different from other graphic novels I have read (such as Hellboy, a bit of Marvel, and the odd indie mag), and I really enjoyed it. It’s a nice mixture of bright colours and intricate design – Ellis did an excellent job here.
    • I really rate the character design, especially those of the second half of the story (no spoilers, though!). There is a wide cast of characters (and species) on the 72 pages of this comic, and all of them were interesting.
    • Similarly, the settings were all rather well done, with no obvious weak points (but definite highlights, especially in the second half).
  • The Only Living Girls #1 is (relatively) innocent. Yes, there’s a fair amount of violence and fighting, but nothing you wouldn’t see on a Saturday morning cartoon. Everyone now and again it’s nice to see a story which just stays well away from any sort of swearing or sex.
  • I’m always glad to see diverse characters – and the protagonist Zee is a young BAME girl who is ridiculously clever and gutsy. There’s nothing not to like there.
  • The worldbuilding, though limited, is interesting and is made all the more entertaining by the illustrator’s imagination. It was really cool to see his creations, and Gallaher provides a decent explanation about how such a wide range of beings got mixed up together. We learn a bit about how all these people came together and what some of the problems they face are, with plenty of room for development in the coming issues.

What did I not like?

  • The plot is… not good. Having not read the other series from Gallaher I knew I’d be at a bit of a disadvantage, but I was lost for most of my time here. Nothing really seemed to click for me until the last 20% or so; there’s a bit of an on-going summary of the events which led up to the present events of this story, and I feel like a couple of pages of prose at the start of the volume would have been much better.
    • For me, the story didn’t make sense and I feel like there should have been a better effort to retell the events of the prior series. I’ve seen other reviewers say that they didn’t think this was the case, but either way there was just too little actually going on here to keep me interested. As the authors say, there’s a balancing act going on at ‘jumping-on’ points in fiction, and unfortunately, I think it went a bit wrong here.
  • The actual plot of these 72 pages could be summed up in about 2 sentences and while I wasn’t expecting a groundbreaking story, I was a little disappointed with how little actually goes on here. Of course, this is the first of a serial publication, but there just wasn’t enough to persuade me to care about anything much that happened.
  • The characters are… eh. None of them really did anything for me, and some of them were outright frustrating. I get that this is aimed at younger people than me, but in the first few pages, we are presented with a sparring duo practising in the open when their training is meant to be secret. That wouldn’t have made any more sense to 12-year old me than it did 22-year old me.
    • There is no meaningful character development. It was interesting to learn a bit about our protagonist’s history, but there was nothing that made me care about any of the cast.

Conclusion: 2.5/5 rounded to 3/5 where required. If you have read The Only Living Boy and enjoyed it then I reckon you’ll probably enjoy this one, too. If not, then I think that most people would be fine giving this a miss. Maybe if you have/know kids who are after a very simple plot and like bright colours this would be for them – and I don’t mean that disparagingly at all.

3 thoughts on “Review: The Only Living Girl #1: The Island at the Edge of Infinity – David Gallaher & Steve Ellis (illustrations)

  1. Pingback: BC: Blog update

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