Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1
By Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson
Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie have had a really strong record of putting out some top-of-the-range books over the past few years. At Marvel they’ve done the brilliant Young Avengers comic, and at Image they’ve delivered The Wicked & The Divine. Both series stand among the best comics that their respective publishers had to offer and when Young Avengers was on shelves you’d be hard pressed to find a better Marvel Comic around. The Wicked & The Divine, an Eisner-award nominated comic, is still one of Image’s best books on shelves as well. And it looks as though based on what we’ve seen here, Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl will quickly join it as top of the pile. Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson return to the series where they first made their names, which sadly, this reviewer hasn’t had the chance to read, but having read this issue it’s now certainly been bumped higher up the to-read list based on what this first issue has provided because everything gets off to a very strong start here.
Almost ten years ago, the main character of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl, Emily Aster, sold half of her personality for the power to rule a coven of phonomancers. Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson offer a unique take on the urban fantasy genre, something that’s different from any other book that’s available on shelves right now, even The Wicked & The Divine. Fans looking for a fresh, energetic and original book need look no further, because they’ve found one in this new series. The world that we’re presented to, for readers not familiar with the Phonogram series already, establishes that magic exists – only, it’s music, and in this world, a song can make or break you. The book jumps between the 1980s, 2001 and 2009 using London (and Brighton in 2001) as a backdrop, and opens with an immediate hook to pull you in. By the very first page, you get an immediate sense of what you’re in for with a compelling start and things only get better from there as Gillen uses the first issue to establish the world very well indeed.
Jamie McKelvie’s style will be familiar to fans of both Young Avengers and The Wicked & Divine and Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl is no different here. Working well with Matthew Wilson on colours, he delivers a good, colourful approach and there are plenty of small panels used quite often over the course of this book rather than the larger splash pages. The time differences between the 1980s, 2001 and 2009 are all approached differently, and it’s easy to identify which year the book’s set in. The characters are handled very well as well, and throughout the time-jumps, even though Eve’s age changes as well as her hair colour, you still get the distinctive sense that this is the same person, even if there wasn’t any narrative there to inform you. It’s a clear and distinctive approach that works really well in bringing the book to life.
On the whole then, if you enjoyed books like The Wicked & The Divine and Young Avengers, then you don’t need me to tell you that you’ll enjoy Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl. It’s a high concept, original urban fantasy comic that should be really fun to follow in the months ahead, and with Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson at the helm, you know you’re going to be in for a wild ride. Even if you’ve not read any of their work before (and if you haven’t, where have you been? Their work is amazing), Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl is a must read.