Alpha Girl #2 is what would happen if Night of The Comet and Maximum Overdrive had ill-advised drunk sex, and the prom dumpster infant was a comic book. Depending on your taste in 80’s movies, this is either a spectacularly good or a wretchedly bad idea, and as a child of the 80s who sometimes likes to get hammered and cruise the dusty parts of the Netflix streaming catalog, I am inclined to get on board with a book like that. However, there is idea and then there is execution, and in the same way there are 80’s horror movies like The Stepfather and others like Motel Hell, it’s the execution where this comic falls down.
The plot concept behind this book is that a cosmetic company has created a pheromone that has the unfortunate effect of turning women into fast zombies. Which is a simple and interesting little concept as comic horror comic books (Or is it comic comic horror books? Horror comic comic books? Ray Jay Johnson? Christ, I need a drink) go, but the problem is I had to learn that from the Image Comics solicitation for the first issue. The concept behind what’s happening here isn’t anywhere in this issue. The closest we get to an explanation is on page 24 (of 27), and even that only tells us that whatever’s going on is only happening to women. So if you’re like me and this is the first issue you’ve seen, you’re not going to have a Goddamned clue as to what’s happening and why.
And the lack of a plot point explanation isn’t the only reason you’re going to find yourself clueless on first read of this issue. From the very first page, writer Jeff Roenning introduces ancillary characters, gives us a little background on them, and then just drops them to move on to other ancillary characters who he then drops. I mean, Jesus; right out of the gate we meet someone named Argyle, learn that he’s called that due to a penchant for selfsame sweater vests and that he apparently likes to drink piss… and then he’s gone. Why? Why do we need to meet Sherm – a pederastic foot fetishist – who we then drop a page later? My sense is that Roenning’s trying to set up a feel and mood of Repo Man, with quirky characters and the occasional non sequitur feel for charm, but it just comes off as confusing and all over the place.
And then there’s our protagonist: Judith. I know her name is Judith because the narrator tells us. On page 24. Judith works in a bookstore and supplements her living by selling her bodily fluids, pubic hair and used undergarments and tampons to perverts. It’s interesting and effective characterization, and it tells you about everything you need to know about Judith in just a few pages, but panels of a girl spitting in a jar and bagging her swinging, drippy used tampons for shipping aren’t going to be for everyone. She’s interesting in that quirky, Alex Cox character kinda way, but we cut away from her so much, so often and for so long that pretty much all we learn about her is that she’s unique form of capitalist and that she once had a syringe lodged into her head. The focus in the comic shifts so much that I found it hard to give too much of a fuck about the gross chick who pisses in a jar beyond understanding and relating to her need for a cigarette.
The art by Robert Love is the kind of stuff that you’d want in a comic horror horror comic horror comic comic book. The style is cartoony and broad, with simple lines and broadly slapstick early-Peter Jackson style gore visuals. His art reminds me of a mix between Chris Haley’s from Let’s Be Friends Again and Rob Guillory on Chew; it’s art that’s fun, and it give a sense of whimsy to what is ultimately a light, kinda 80s-punky story, and while I won’t be looking for it on Artists’ Alley or as a fill-in on, say, Batman, it’s fine for this story.
I will grant that I am coming into this comic an issue late, and therefore might be missing the key plot or character points that would make this issue hang together in a satisfying manner. However, I can only review this individual issue on its own merits, and the damn thing is just too unfocused and all over the place to be really satisfying on its own. I get that Roenning is going for an 80s horror flick vibe here, but if that’s what you want, find yourself some Luther Strode and give this one a pass. It’s shooting to be Repo Man, but instead it lands at Repo Chick: a late homage that nobody needed.