By Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa (Story, Art & Colors)
Sky Doll #1 is the first release from Marvel’s new partnership with French publisher Soleil and it leaves me wondering exactly what kind of audience Marvel hopes to reach with this series. I had heard of this critically acclaimed series a while back and, while the first issue gives me the feeling that it deserves the praise, I could easily see Sky Doll becoming a lightning rod for controversy if the mainstream media got wind of it. Allow me to explain what I mean a bit before getting into the review, as I hope it will give everything I write a bit more clarity.
Under a colorful, futuristic, cartoon aesthetic, Sky Doll is, at its core, a pointed criticism of religion, sexual taboos, and society. To be honest, I could probably write pages and pages about the themes and imagery found in this first volume alone, but for simplicity’s sake let me just make clear that this is not a comic for kids, the easily offended, the very religious, or those uncomfortable with (possibly gratuitous) nudity or violence. This work just feels out of place amongst the rest of the Marvel lineup, though by no means do I consider that to be a bad thing. It’s just that Sky Doll is something very unique, very controversial, and, in some ways, groundbreaking both for it’s overall storyline as well as it’s interesting mix of both subtle and blatant dialogue/imagery. I highly recommend this series for anyone with an open mind, while at the same time I urge readers to be ready for something quite a bit different than anything you’ve read before. Now, on to the review…
Sky Doll tells the story of a doll named Noa who discovers that she is quite a bit different from all the other dolls. The “dolls” in question are bought and sold for various tasks or for sexual pleasure, and Noa decides that she’s had enough of life as it is and aims to prove that she is more than just a thing to be used. She stows away, in hopes of a better life, on a ship being used by Roy and Jahu, two emissaries of Papess Lodovica, the religious leader/icon of the city. In addition to the story of Noa and Roy, Sky Doll #1 also introduces us to the fanatical religious climate that permeates through all aspects of the society. Religion is politics, politics is religion, and the media exists to further the ideology through public displays of power like miracles and, what looks like, sacrifice. This is a very radical, possibly oppressive society and the book does not shy away from pointing out the dark side of religious devotion. There are hints throughout the book that Noa truly is much more than her label as a doll and it will be interesting to see how this is developed into what I can only imagine will be a challenge to the society as a whole.
The artwork in Sky Doll is something people will either love or hate. I thought the art was fantastic, as the colorful, vibrant, futuristic world really comes to life thanks to the almost Disney-like style and color palette. This book is extremely eye-catching, though I caution parents again that this is not a kids book, as the character designs are quite risqué, suggestive poses are common, and nudity is quite frequent. I could see someone arguing that the cartoony characters and world do not fit the grim, controversial subject matter, but I don’t think anyone could argue that this book is dull, boring, or uninteresting from a visual standpoint.
As I’ve mentioned before, the world of Sky Doll truly feels both alive and fully realized. The dialogue is realistic, the fanaticism is both understandable and disturbing, and the religious politics on display help to set the stage for Noa’s story and the world she lives in. The realistic, emotional, and, at times, deep, dialogue created memorable characters and relationships that I actually want to see develop. I especially enjoyed both the connection between Roy and Noa and the tension filled friendship of emissaries Roy and Jahu. This was just a strong read all around thanks to the combination of strong characters and a fully realized setting.
Overall, I cannot recommend Sky Doll #1 enough. This was an incredibly strong debut for the Soleil/Marvel partnership and I can only hope that this level of quality continues. I recommend Sky Doll for anyone looking for something unique and something that can be read a bit deeper than your average comic book. The world, the characters, and the art come together in a way that makes me think this series can really be something special. Pick this one up if it sounds even the least bit interesting to you. (Grade: A+)
A Second Opinion
This comic was originally published in the U.S. in Heavy Metal magazine as a special issue. It’s not your typical Marvel comic, so I applaud them for taking the risk and exposing this book to a larger audience.
Like Kyle said in his review, if mainstream media discovers this comic there will be lots of controversies (and sold out copies). It’s not a kiddie book. Lots of sexual innuendos and religion, which usually don’t go together, can be found in several occasions and I’m sure this book will offend many, many Christians.
Personally, I enjoyed this first issue. It’s a fresh original story and a nice getaway from current superhero comics. The art style is funny, cartoon like, and vivid. I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue. (Grade: B+)
A Third Opinion
What Kyle fails to remember is that Sky Doll is part of Marvel’s MAX imprint. If you take that into consideration, you’ll find that this series perfectly fits in with Marvel’s adult line of comics and is definitely one worth showcasing.
Sky Doll is thought provoking, charming, and a wonder to behold. Marvel is to be commended for bringing this series to the North American market. Hopefully it’ll garner the audience it so rightfully deserves. I’m not sure if it’ll get any kind of backlash from the media or right wing groups, but knowing Marvel’s marketing team, I’m sure they’ve got something brewing to sell more copies.
Despite my accolades for the book, I personally don’t find it to be anything original. Its story very much reminds me of concepts touched upon by Macross Plus, A.I., and Blade Runner. You could even throw in Pinocchio in there if you wanted. Whatever the case, this book is worth checking out. It’s the perfect marriage of story and art. (Grade: A-)
– J. Montes
SKY DOLL #1 GIVEAWAY!!!
We have one copy of Sky Doll #1 to give away to a lucky winner. If you’ll like to be included in the giveaway, just post a comment below naming your favorite comic of the month. The contest will be open for roughly a week and winners will be chosen from a random integer generator. Winners will be emailed, and will have 72 hours to respond or be disqualified.