Truth be told, I almost passed on this one when I saw it on the new release shelves last week. Image Comics first issues are a dime a dozen these days, as anyone can tell you, and while I’m marginally familiar with the work of writer Jim Zub, artist Djibril Morissette Pham is a name that’s entirely new to me. It was the pull quote from former Vertigo head honcho Karen Berger on the back cover of Glitterbomb #1 that convinced me to give it a whirl — after all, if it’s good enough for Ms. Berger, it should be good enough for me, right? Well, I’m glad I took her advice, because this book is considerably more than “good enough.”
Hollywood is always a target ripe for commentary of the seething and hard-hitting variety, vacuous wasteland of the talentless and over-privileged that it is, and Zub’s aim here appears to be the utilization of Lovecraftian horror tropes to take aim at the Tinseltown rat race and, by extension, the very “culture of celebrity” itself. Which is all well and good, I’m sure we’d agree — perhaps even noble — but the best intentions in the world don’t amount to a hill of beans if the story and art don’t get the job done, do they?
Rest easy on that score, friends — very easy. Zub’s script is fast and economical, plunging you right in at the deep end by means of a bit of Tarantino-esque timeline-fudging as we learn that middle-aged actress Farrah Durante is about to be dumped by her agent. She ends that conversation both viscerally and on her own terms (see the splash page near review’s end), and then we get to see how she got there, as a dead-end audition (one of many, by the sound of things) leads to an unscheduled dip in the ocean leads to possession by an evil aquatic entity leads to desperately trying to make things up with her babysitter leads to a near-accident with her son (Farrah’s a single mom on top of everything else) leads back to her agent’s office. The dialogue along the way is razor-sharp and infused with a palpable sense of both desperation and weariness, and for a male writer to have this firm a grasp on a largely female cast is pretty impressive, in my book. Everybody sounds so painfully real.
Now, about that artist I’ve never heard of — turns out there’s a good reason for that. This, ya see, is Djibril Morissette-Pham’s first-ever professional work. He’s 22, he’s got all the talent in the world, and yes, I’m appropriately jealous. The guy can just plain do it all, from the everyday to the horrific to the everyday horrific and everything in between. Marvel and DC are going to be knocking on his door right quick after they see this comic, but fuck them and their higher page rates and their corporate ownership of IP — Djibril, my man, stay right where you are. And if you can keep colorist K. Michael Russell as your steady collaborator, that’d be a good thing, too, because his work on this book is just right: not too flashy, never overpowering, walking the fine line between drab and otherwordly, this guy knows his hues.
So, I dunno — have I gushed enough praise yet? No? Okay, then let me up my game — a couple weeks back I hesitated to call Lake Of Fire #1 the best Image debut of the year (even though it’s fantastic and you should definitely buy it if you haven’t already), and now I’m glad I was gun-shy in awarding that designation, because Glitterbomb #1 definitely deserves the title. Throw in some killer “Real Hollywood” backmatter at the end (which you absolutely must not skip over), and this is the whole goddamn package. You could, in theory, ask for more out of a comic, but odds are you’re not going to get it (unless we’re talking Providence, of course) — this feels like the first installment of something very special indeed.
And to think, I almost passed on it —