Friday, May 20, 2011

Books I Read: Trouble

"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move." (Douglas Adams)

This book, Mark Millar's "Trouble", was pretty much reviled when it was announced in 2003. Collected now, distanced from the controversy, does the work stand on its own? (And why is it collected now? The large caption "From the author of Kick-Ass" on the cover answers that question.)

To refresh your memory, this is a romance comic starring teenage brothers Richard and Ben, friends Mary and May, and an unwanted pregnancy leading to a baby named Peter. Yes, at the time Millar stated that if the book went over well this would be the official history of Spider-Man's family. It didn't, and it wasn't. This new edition doesn't reference Spidey anywhere, and there's a cameo in the last few pages that makes it impossible for it to be a Marvel Universe story.

The problem for me is that without the tension of Peter Parker's parents (either set) acting in ways you wouldn't expect, there isn't enough drama in the story. It's too racy for young kids, and not sexy enough for older ones. There's only one real plot twist involving the pregnancy towards the end -- much less content than you'd find in a manga or a daytime TV drama -- and it doesn't even qualify as a teen sex comedy because it doesn't really try to be funny.

Except for a couple of places where the characters look similar enough to be confusing, Terry Dodson's art is great: I could look at his drawings of cavorting teenagers all day. Unfortunately, it's not backed up by a strong enough romance story to draw you in. There's potential here for something a new comics audience might be interested in, but without the initial hype the end product is too thin.

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