by Jeremy Haun, Jason A. Hurley, and John Rauch
Out from Image Comics, the gem from Pilot Season has returned. The Beauty is a fascinating series from Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley that asks the question “What wouldn’t people do for appearances?” The first issue opens strong with just the right amount of exposition before taking off into this world. With an absolutely captivating cover, the issue sets a high bar for what lies behind the cover. The creators here have matched those expectations, as the opening issue leaves quite an impression.
As Haun and Hurley explain early on in the issue, this entire premise is based around a disease that seems to have only upside. A sexually transmitted disease spread across the country a few years before the opening of the story and the wake it left behind was unlike anything before it. People who contracted the disease, dubbed ‘The Beauty,’ suffered physical changes that left them wholly different. Haun and Hurley have crafted something quite clever here in blending societal pressures to put on our best faces with something rather dark. Contracting ‘The Beauty,’ transforms individuals into their perfect physical selves in many ways. But the book definitely clarifies in a few points that despite the outward positives, this is very much a disease even if there is no apparent downside. The premise on its own is absolutely fascinating and one that warrants ample discussion. Haun and Hurley are not simply satisfied with a clever idea, though, and the first issue is a good indication of that.
The story follows two detectives as they investigate the sudden death, and potential bombing in a subway car. The detectives investigate crimes involving people with ‘The Beauty.’ The world building that Haun and Hurley are able to accomplish in just a few pages impress. As the issue progresses, small interactions, conversations between coworkers and other clues all further the development of this world without ever taking time off from pushing the story forward. Foster and Vaughn are an excellent pair as partners and leading characters and as the two investigate the incident on the subway, readers will find themselves more and more enthralled by the story telling. In some ways, the flow of the story and the underlying element of an epidemic feel akin to The Strain. But the focus on the leading characters and the beats of the issue seem to have roots in The X-Files.
There is no question that the craft of storytelling is impressively high in this first issue. The creators not only have a very clever idea, but their ability to craft a world and characters beyond that premise raise the bar even higher. In a visual medium, the effectiveness of the script relies heavily on the way the artist will bring the script to life. Haun’s art, with colors by John Rauch, are a major element of what makes the issue so effective. From the very start, the book’s cover is terrifying in a way that is not grotesque or excessive, but manages to find a way to imprint its image in the mind of the reader. The art and colors create a mood to the story that makes the script all the more effective. The Beauty has a distinct tone that feels uneasy from the very start. The destruction of something beautiful and the urgency of the problem are captured in the art such that readers will feel tense as they read through this first issue. The artists for The Beauty have the challenge of depicting a world not far from the real world, one that is equal parts more beautiful but more sinister than our own. Haun and Rauch are able to do just that in this opening issue of the series.
The Beauty has more to say than it’s elevator pitch, which is incredible as its pitch is fascinating on its own. After just one issue, readers will be clamoring for more. There is no doubt that the creators are planning to take their audience on a thrilling ride. This is absolutely a book to check out.