Effigy #1 tells a story about daylight and serpents.  Daylight is a timekeeper that ruins the criminal plans of the villain in the long-cancelled children’s sci-fi adventure, Star Cops.  It is a hunter that harries tired graduate students away from the serpentine Native American mound where Chondra Jackson, one-time actress in the popular show, now works as a parking lot police officer, and from which her home town of Effigy Mound, OH, takes its name.  It is a cruel revelator which, as Chondra’s harridan mother observes with the bitter clarity of the defeated shyster, shows every hair and pore and liver spot in aging flesh.  Most of all, it is a metaphor for bitter truth.  Chondra, once a rising star in Los Angeles, is a has-been while still nearly a child, a young woman whose own mother advised her to make a sex tape to gain notoriety, a one-time actress whose only true success was as a science officer on a children’s show.  And in truth, her character, Bebe Soma, wasn’t even a very good scientist, considering that one of her favorite sayings was being “Positive as an electron!”  Not only would “Positive as a proton!” have been the correct version, it would actually have alliterated.

As for serpents, it’s harder to say what they stand for.  Mystery perhaps?  Or maybe danger?  Serpents are not nearly so apparent in Tim Seeley’s writing as in Marley Zarcone’s art.  There is the snake-like Effigy Mound itself, of course.  But even more there is the creative placement he uses for his panels, drawing the eye in a twisting, curving, serpentine path throughout the entire book across multiple insets and clever borders interrupted only by one sequence of square, television-like panels, very reminiscent of Miller’s Dark Knight Rises, in which Chondra, the former TV star, faces the audience and narrates her story.

But light throws shadows and serpents carry poison. Effigy #1 is suffused with darkness and venom, so much so that the crime that ends the issue comes as no surprise at all.  The darkness is the shadows of idols. The poison is envy and it’s warped mirror, unholy worship. Chondra’s fame has warped her life and the lives of those around her.  Her mother is a bitter, scheming shrew.  The townsfolk remember Chondra as an ungrateful brat who insulted them publicly in the days of her glory and now rejoice in her humiliation. One of the town’s prostitutes reveres Chondra’s old character, Bebe Soma, obsessively.  And at the mound, a freshly dead, freshly mummified body awaits, it’s back stamped with the old show’s emblem.  Nor has Chondra herself escaped, for at the first appearance of a camera she once again automatically assumes she is the center of the universe, sliding into patterns of thought so alien to most as to constitute mental disease.

And is Tim Seeley having a little joke on himself?  After all, for all his success with Hack/Slash and Revival, to the comics community at large he is best known for his association with that great house of idols, the Bat Family, and one of the greatest of its effigies, Dick Grayson, the first Robin and star of the eponymous book that Seeley co-writes.  It is assuredly no accident that Chondra’s mother fondly remembers many meetings with Ben Affleck, the new Batman, or that one of Bebe Soma’s other sayings was “Holy Singularities!”  Is there a tone of bitterness here at the shadow of the idol Seeley props up himself?  Probably not.  Rather, just a sense of irony, and perhaps a smile at the complexities of life and art.





This book must perform a balancing act that Dick Grayson, circus performer extraordinaire, would certainly appreciate. Seeley and Zarcone have chosen to set their story in an odd place and fill it with grotesques while keeping it supposedly in the real world. Effigy Mound is not the obviously imaginary Gotham, but as an exotic, if little-known, tourist trap it isn't an ordinary city, either. Similarly, the characters are bizarre, but not superheroes like the Bat Family. They are realistic, but not as normal as the characters of REVIVAL or, as far as their social setting and professional background go, even those of SUNDOWNERS. They are fascinating, but their strangeness could alienate very quickly. If Seeley and Zarcone can tell their serpentine story filled with shadows without losing their balance, they will have achieved a literary feat worthy of great praise. Worthy, indeed, of being cast in effigy.