Hollywood Receives Righteous Body-Horror Revenge in Glitterbomb #1

Comics Reviews Jim Zub
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Hollywood Receives Righteous Body-Horror Revenge in <i>Glitterbomb</i> #1

Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Djibril Morissette-Phan
Colorist: K. Michael Russell
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: September 7, 2016

STL017699.jpeg The opening of the new horror series Glitterbomb sports a terrific, lethal hook. Farrah, an actress, meets with her agent, who subjects her to a profane tirade, mocking her for her age and fulfilling every stereotype of a drunk-with-power middle-aged white guy. On the second page, a tentacle shoots out of her mouth and impales him. Subsequent dialogue reveals that Farrah’s outburst isn’t her first, and presto—we’re in a modern spin on a classic tale: the monster within as a righteous avenger.

Emergent monstrous transformations and social commentary have become familiar territory for horror on a larger scale (this comic would make for an interesting double bill with Marguerite Bennett and Ariela Kristantina’s InSeXts). More broadly, Thomas Ligotti’s My Work Is Not Yet Done and Todd Grimson’s Brand New Cherry Flavor have both addressed righteous revenge as a paranormal nightmare, the latter of which has a fair amount of thematic overlap with Glitterbomb.

Glitterbomb #1 Interior Art by Djibril Morissette-Phan & K. Michael Russell

The first issue of Glitterbomb tells, via flashback, the story of how one particularly bad day upends Farrah’s life. She’s an actress a decade or so removed from an iconic role on a beloved science fiction show, now raising a son and trying to find work in a film industry that prizes youth above all else. (Kaydon, an aspiring actress who babysits for Farrah, wears a shirt emblazoned with the boast “FLAWLESS,” which comes off less as a pop-culture signifier and more as ironic commentary.) As one exchange of dialogue with another actress makes clear, the process has left her deeply weary of the ups and downs of the industry. After an audition goes badly, she wanders to the ocean and has a surreal encounter that leaves her altered. “Show me your pain. Give me something to destroy,” expounds a mysterious, Faustian entity. Tantalizingly, it also offers a suggestion that this is not the pair’s first interaction—a history that will hopefully be developed further in future issues.

Glitterbomb #1 Interior Art by Djibril Morissette-Phan & K. Michael Russell

Djibril Morissette-Phan’s art is solid so far, with a style that brings to mind Fiona Staples’ ability to find the fine line between realism and the fantastical. At times, the looseness of the art works against the script; in one scene, Farrah sits beside another actress at an audition. From their dialogue, one can infer an age difference between them, but the two look to be the same age. This might be the point—that the film industry’s emphasis on youth is a mirage—but if so, it isn’t necessarily a point that clicks clearly.

Glitterbomb #1 Interior Art by Djibril Morissette-Phan & K. Michael Russell

The issue ends with a harrowing essay by Holly Raychelle Hughes documenting the abuse and bullying she underwent over the course of working on an acclaimed film. It’s a way of underscoring the thematic concerns raised by the story preceding it, but it also leaves some questions for the reader— how best to juxtapose real-world sexism and unequal power dynamics with the series’ pulpier horror elements. From this issue, Zub and his artistic collaborators have plenty of directions to pursue, from the mythological to the social, leaving a body count along the way. For now, Glitterbomb is off to an intriguing start.

Tobias Carroll frequently writes about books, music, and food for a
variety of publications. He’s the author of two books: the collection Transitory and the novel Reel. He can be found on Twitter at @TobiasCarroll.