The Beauty features one of the more original concepts you’ll find in a comic book. The first arc is now available in a collected edition.
The title of The Beauty refers to an STD that makes people younger and good looking. Once it became known, millions of people exposed themselves to it willingly. Only over time do the deadly implications of the disease start to emerge. Police detectives Vaughn and Foster are drawn into a complex web of politics, big business, media and anti-Beauty activism. They stumble into a plot to suppress a cure for the disease, in favor of a treatment that merely palliates the unpleasant symptoms, and come up against a brutal killer tasked with preventing them from exposing the truth. As the first arc wraps, the old adage of the cure being worse than the disease has never been truer.
Co-writers Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley craft The Beauty as a biting modern satire on image and media. They examine the impossible standards of modern beauty and the extremes some will endure to try to meet them. It’s a very original set-up and the pair does a lot with it, touching on a wide variety of topical hot buttons, with varying levels of effectiveness. An interesting point that Haun and Hurley touch on is the reaction of a community of the afflicted who choose to see their disease as a part of their identity and not necessarily something to be “cured.” That’s a highly relevant perspective that’s worth exploring in more depth.
At its heart, The Beauty is an adult-oriented thriller and the writers do a good job developing it. Foster and Vaughn are likeable, sympathetic leads, both directly impacted by the disease. Agent Brandon, a CDC official entrapped by the conspiracy, is the most interesting of the supporting characters. The villains mostly fall on the “stock” side, though a murderous psychopath obsessed with Beauty carriers adds some true menace to the proceedings.
Haun is also the artist for The Beauty. His scratchy, moody approach does a good job at setting a tone for the story and conveying drama through atmosphere. His characters are very expressive and he does some nice work contrasting those affected by the Beauty against the “clean” ones and playing off the notions of physical ideals versus reality. Colorist John Rauch mostly takes a muted approach that prizes subtlety over flashiness. Overall, the art team gives the book a clean feel that conveys the paranoid sensibility of the plot with genuine dramatic impact.
The Beauty carries a “Mature Readers” label and while the book isn’t overrun with graphic content, there’s certainly enough to justify the rating. It never feels gratuitous and is in keeping with the nature of the plot. But this is not kids’ stuff, so use your discretion.
With an original premise and some inventive creators doing a lot with it, The Beauty is an interesting allegory worth checking out.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on May 16, 2016.