Straight Shooter

Lost Girls
Top Shelf
Story by Alan Moore
Art by Melinda Gebbie, Todd Klein
$75, 264 pages

The Spirit #1
DC Comics
Story by Darwyn Cooke
Art by J. Bone, Dave Stewart
$2.99, 24 pages
This book has a suggested retail value of $75, so I know you guys have been waiting these past few months for the Straight Shooter take it on before you spend your hard-earned comic/porn money. So here, at last, is my advice: If you’re buying this as a comic fan, you can’t get to the store fast enough. If, however, you’re buying this for “special reading,” don’t waste your money. You can get much better porn for $75 (so I’ve heard). In the right part of town, $75 could get you either a decently attractive or fairly competent prostitute (according to an article I read). Sure Lost Girls contains basically every way of getting down, from lesbian to gay to sweet, sweet foot-job action — and I think there may even be a hetero missionary panel slipped in there somewhere — but if you can get off to Gebbie’s fairly simple soft crayon drawings of boobies and hoohas, not to mention prepubescent incest, you could probably just save the money and rub one out to the phone book, or maybe this review. (And, for the record, I’m aware of the potential Straight Shooter joke, I’m just too mature to make it.)

That’s not to say this book isn’t pornographic, though. Each eight-page chapter contains enough raunchy cartoon sex to satisfy the 12-year-old inside us all who’s forever drawing stick figures with naughty parts in his algebra notebook.

So Lost Girls is graphic-novel porno — Moore’s admitted it himself — but he’s also given us something we rarely get: a wonderfully conceived, brilliantly written wank book. Moore took a huge risk with the story by making its main characters Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Alice from the stories of Lewis Carroll. Anything less than a masterpiece would be written merely to exploit beloved children’s characters and sell books off the controversy. Fortunately, Lost Girls delivers with genuine meaning and feeling. Building from the early line “Desire’s a strange land one discovers as a child, where nothing makes the slightest sense,” Moore takes these beloved children’s stories to places their authors (hopefully) never dreamed of, recasting the girls’ fantastic adventures as sexual escapades. But told through the eyes of young teens, the stories retain a magical feel.

While disturbing scenes such as Alice’s molestation enter dark territory only speculated about in grad-school papers, they relate unblinking, nonjudgmental depictions of sex, good and bad, healthy and not. And if the reader becomes accustomed to or even bored with Lost Girls’ continuous sex scenes, that’s probably Moore’s intent. As the characters continuously up the danger and novelty of their sexual adventures, we’re reminded of our own struggles as adults to find adventure and satisfaction, not only with sex, but with life in general. By the time we realize that everything has lost the magic it carried in our childhood, it becomes impossible to pinpoint the exact moment we shed our innocence. We’re left, like Alice at the end of Book 2, with only the vague feeling that: “Something quite glorious was finished with for good.” Heady stuff for a porn book. You’ll probably leave your pants on for this one.

Will Eisner’s newspaper-comic classic is apparently a better vehicle for Cooke’s writing than Superman Confidential. Where Superman gives Cooke the freedom to ruin the story with ridiculous sci-fi elements, the Spirit is a more realistic hero, better suited for more realistic storylines. This first issue focuses on rescuing a kidnapped reporter, and while the theme of a newscaster going stupid for a good story has been handled better many times before, the book’s an enjoyable read, recapturing a Golden-Age comics feel similar to what you expect from Batman Adventures or Teen Titans. The characters have been modernized, but in this case, that’s a good thing. Sixty years ago, a semi-racist stereotype like black sidekick Ebony White could be awkwardly dismissed as an artifact of the time, but now there’s no excuse. I’m all for preserving continuity, but when an original character’s dialogue would make Larry the Cable Guy uncomfortable, I think we should be happy they got the costumes right and move on.



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