Note: Not a title for younger audiences. Does contain blood, and gore, and nudity.
Mystery Girl: Volume 1, a script by Paul Tobin and the art of Alberto J. Alburquerque with colors by Marissa Louise, at first glance catches the eyes of readers with an edgy art style and colors that seem to jump off the page. When opening up to the first pages of the four chapter volume, we find the art style has quite a clever story to match. A dynamite duo that looks like they will continue to work together.
Trine, the protagonist of Mystery Girl, is a sidewalk detective in London, U.K. She gains mysterious powers of insight that send her to the coldest regions of Siberia as she attempts to solve a mystery. Unbeknownst to her, another individual is intent on silencing any attempt to find out the truth about what’s truly buried beneath the Siberian snow. And they are looking to kill her to keep their secrets from being exposed.
Anyone familiar with Paul Tobin will understand that there is a long history of work behind this name. From writing scripts at Marvel, DC, and a previous title from Dark Horse Plants vs. Zombies: Grown Sweet Home, audiences will see that Tobin has been quite the busy man. And given the writing, the quality hasn’t diminished from that title to this one. There is a clever way of solving the mystery of the antagonist while utilizing the powers of insight that Tobin writes into the plot effortlessly. Although we are told that this takes place in London, the audience might have a hard time believing it because we don’t see a lot of cultural references to the region. For the most part, I couldn’t imagine the characters speaking with the British accent. Yet we see glimpses into the lives of other characters, and despite only having a few panels with the protagonist, their lives are so integrated in Trine’s that they have value to the audience as they do with Trine. We understand that connection when their lives are threatened, and feel Trine’s anger when these integral parts of her life are in danger.
The art style by Alberto J. Alburquerque is somewhat similar to a style by J. Scott Campbell of Gen 13 fame, with some harsher lines and more realistic body proportions. When a woman is laying down naked, her chest seems to follow in the natural way that seems real. Some of the characters are ugly, and the art doesn’t shy away from the realities of life that there are decent looking people as well as the not-so-decent in Trine’s life. There are some issues with one frame a character having a scruffy look and another where he appears clean-shaven, but for the most part there is an attention to consistency throughout the work.
The coloring is loud and catches the attention of the reader just as much as the art style. What Marissa Louise does in color, she tends to explode it to the point where shadows and 3-dimensional elements almost seem to disappear. It creates an environment that is full of color, but almost loses an aspect of reality when done to such an extent.
Looking at the final pages of the collection with comments by Tobin and Alburquerque, some of the pages with the heavy inking and some of the light grey shadings look better than some of Louise’s work within the pages. There is even a page where there is no color at all, and the shadows were left in to give the comic a noir style feel to it. It’s visually appealing and has a Sin City vibe to it..
Alburquerque did the cover himself, so there is a difference in coloring even there. Sometimes, less is more, and given the art style was as edgy as it was, perhaps having less for the colors would have served more to the aesthetics of the work than what eventually came about.
Mystery Girl: Volume 1 delivers in terms of art in a way that is visually appealing, while keeping in touch with reality on some levels. The book also delivers on plot making it interesting to read. The color might be a little too overblown in areas given the art style, and some might not believe that the characters are British given the dialogue. However, the plot is solid enough and has enough clever twists that make those points a small issue. This work by Tobin and Alburquerque is something that you will want to pick-up when the next volume drops.
- Art style is realistic, while edgy to appeal aesthetically
- Writing is clever with twists that keep the reader interested
- Characters seem real with real connection to the protagonist
- Strictly for older audiences (nudity, gore)
- Language does not indicate the setting
- Coloring might be too loud or too much