By: Alan Moore (script), Moore & Malcolm McLaren (story), Antony Johnston (sequential adaptation), Facundo Percio (art), Hernan Cabrera (colors) & Jaymes Reed (letters)

The Story: After the death of a key employee, what will become of the famed house of fashion?

Review (with SPOILERS): Well, it was bound to happen. Fashion Beast has been an interesting series all along, but it veered strongly into “incredibly thought provoking” for issues #7 and #8.  Those issues had so much depth and complexity that I really, REALLY got my hopes up for this issue.  This ninth issue isn’t poor, but it in no way approaches the craft of the last two issues.  This issue actually stands as an testament to how we should enjoy those transcendant comics while we hold them in our hands, because it is hard to predict when a combination of writer/artist/story will come along and really connect with you.  The next issue might not bring the same heat.

Perhaps it was to be expected that this issue would be a bit of a downer given Celestine’s death.  Much of the beauty of the story came via the contrast between Celestine and Doll.  Now that Celestine is dead, Doll isn’t as remarkable anymore.  It looks like the initial plan from the nasty old ladies was to keep the salon going with Celestine’s discarded designs (an ironic parallel to Alan Moore’s complaints about how the comic industry maintains itself or how this series came about).  Maybe that works for them since they’re a couple of old crones, but Doll has a whole life ahead of her and she just can’t be as glamorous in Celestine’s C-List fashions, especially after she knows what he sacrificed to produce the styles.  Perhaps there is some commentary here on not really wanting to see how the sausage is made, but it just didn’t connect with me as strongly as the depth of the last couple of issues.  It’s still good, it just isn’t face-melting good.

The art is still very effective.  It’s nothing that makes me scramble around for Facundo Percio’s original artwork the way his work on Anna Mercury did, but he’s absolutely getting the job done.  Given Alan Moore’s reputation for being exceedingly specific about visual elements of the story, a special tip of the cap should go to anyone who can pull off working with Moore (even if it is indirectly).  He’s really mastered many of the nuanced elements of this story whether it is Doll’s facial expressions or the repeating appearance of a statue in the cemetery.

Who knows how this series will conclude?  We only have one issue remaining, so there isn’t that much room left to maneuver.  I’ll be very curious to see if the final issue (#10) returns to being clever and deep OR whether it’ll show us why Fashion Beast was never made into a motion picture.

Conclusion: Still quality, but not close to the stellar quality of the last two issues.

Grade: B

– Dean Stell