FASHION BEAST #7By: Alan Moore (script), Moore & Malcolm Mclaren (story), Antony Johnston (sequential adaptation), Facundo Percio (art), Hernan Cabrera (colors) & James Reed (letters)

The Story: Now that Doll knows the true nature of Celestine, what will happen next?

Review (with some unavoidable SPOILERS from last issue): This has been an odd series.  I don’t “love it”, but it is a very high quality comic.  The story itself isn’t anything that would immediately sing to me, but it has some attraction just because it is different.  I love post-apocalypse, but that genre has been overdone.  Fashion Beast features a city suffering from a kinda nuclear winter (or at least that seems to be the problem even if they never specifically say), where the city is still functioning, but it is cold and gray all the time.  In this bleak environment, it seems the populace has turned to fashion as their obsession.  By fashion, I mean being obsessed with runway models and clothing designers, not wearing funky clothing themselves.  Enter Doll, a transvestite who has risen from being a coat-check “girl” to lead model for Celestine, the city’s most elite fashion designer.  Celestine is a recluse to lives in a tower and designs clothes.  The assumption is that he is a hideous beast, but as we learned last issue, he is actually beautiful, but nobody will tell him that because otherwise he wouldn’t stay in his tower designing clothes.

That reveal of Celestine’s true nature was HUGE last issue.  With this issue we are entering the downhill portion of the story and I’m fascinated to see how this creative team spins this tale of image over substance.  The story is already thought provoking on multiple levels and like all Alan Moore-associated works, I can’t imagine the payoff won’t be there in the end.

This particular issue is very affecting.  We see Doll finally getting the adoration he/she always wanted, but not really enjoying being chased by paparazzi.  Then we have this surreal scene where she retreats INTO Celestine’s chamber to escape her fans.  Thus, what is a prison for Celestine is somewhat of a refuge for Doll.  He hides there because he thinks he is ugly (when he is really a beautiful man and full of deep passions), she retreats there because she is “beautiful” (when she is really just a tarted up transvestite, with very shallow desires).  They’re kinda living the opposite ends of the same lie.  This is the type of scene and situation that I love Alan Moore for.  He creates stories that offer surprises to those who THINK and he never patronizes the reader by explaining everything.  His stories give back as much as you’re willing to invest.

The art is more than capable.  In fact, much of the emotion of this issue is carried by the art.  There’s this entire scene where Celestine is dressing a nude Doll in his latest clothing design.  The scene goes on for pages and it’s Percio’s art that tells us that Doll is very attracted to Celetine, how horribly Doll feels for Celestine’s predicament, etc.  Without competent art, this issue doesn’t come close to the heights it hits.

And were they implying that Celestine doesn’t find it odd that his lead model has a penis because he’s never seen a naked woman?  I mean, I think the way the story was supposed to go is that Doll is having this big Crying Game moment, stripped herself naked in front of Celestine and expected to be revealed for what HE truly is–and Celestine doesn’t even bat an eye because he doesn’t know that women don’t have penises.  Freaky…

Conclusion: The only negative for this issue is that I don’t enjoy the subject matter all that much.  But, it’s a testament to the creators that they’re making me mostly enjoy a comic about fashion and transvestites.  In all seriousness, it’s nice to read a comic that rewards you for thinking.  With most stories, there is nothing more than a surface layer or a clumsily done subtext; with Alan Moore, you never reach the bottom.

Grade: A-

– Dean Stell