01/06/2010. Contributed by Kelly Jensen
pub: Vertigo Comics. 144 page graphic novel. Price: $ 9.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-40122-153-9.
check out website: www.dccomics.com
The first line of dialogue in 'Letters From Lost Countries' had me hooked: 'Aren't you glad this isn't a Salman Rushdie novel?' Why yes I am! Not that I don't adore Mr. Rushdie's outstanding prose, but I had picked up this graphic novel looking for something a little lighter.
Being on the lighter side certainly doesn't detract from the number of real world issues Ms. Wilson has packed into this first slender volume. Part romance, adventure and fantasy, 'Letters From Lost Countries' follows flight attendant Blythe as she falls in love with a mysterious stranger and tracks him through a plot that not only involves herself, but her employer and the future of the world itself. There are terrorists, ancient artefacts and as the title suggests, letters from countries that are no longer supposed to exist and all of this is set to gorgeous and life-like illustration from M.K. Perker.
I love quirky characters and 'Letters From Lost Countries' has many. Normally, I'd cry for a cardboard cut-out figure somewhere, a benchmark from which these others could vary. But this is a graphic novel, a fantasy one at that, and it's allowed to have oddball characters. In fact, it's expected. Blythe, our reluctant hero, is an acrophobic flight attendant. For those of you who can't be bothered 'wiki-ing', that means she's afraid of heights. She also has a degree in philosophy, not the usual prerequisite for such a career, but I'm sure it makes her conversational gambits a tad more interesting. Her side-kicks (yes, every hero must have at least one) are her fellow employee, Fletcher, and her roommate, Mrs. B. Fletcher, is gloriously depicted with wild hair, too many earrings and quite a lot of attitude. Fletcher's just strange enough that if he did serve you cocktails at 10,000 feet you might already think you'd had one too many. Mrs. B is a matronly Indian woman whose purpose (other than roommate) I have yet to properly discern. Perhaps she's the straight-man I previously lamented. To top it all off, we have Zayn, Blythe's mysterious love interest. Is he a terrorist or a peacekeeper and which of his disguises shows the real man?
G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker have collaborated before on a graphic novel called 'Cairo', a 'fast-paced modern fable that draws six unlikely characters into the search for a very unusual hooka'. They work well together and I look forward to seeing more of their chemistry in volume two of 'Air', 'Flying Machine' which features a flying palace and a long lost aviator.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA