March 11th, 2011

Air, Volume 1: Letters from Lost Countries
Air, Volume 2: Flying Machine

Written by G.Willow Wilson, Art by M.K Perker
Published by Vertigo, collected by Titan

Review by Gavin O’Reilly

Surreal, off the wall and most certainly intriguing- the key features of this little gem of a comic world. No super heroes, and no tights- none are needed. The world set up here by Wilson has enough interest and layers and has its own, very distinct identity. I cant say that I have ever read anything quite like it, and it does not give the vibe of trying too hard, it may indeed be that rare thing- an original idea with a fresh, well made execution. As a premise for a series the ideas here have the kind of potential that you could imagine to go and go.

The story centres around Blythe- a seemingly run enough of the mill blonde air hostess who sees things much more differently than we see her- her gates of perception are wide open, even if she doesn’t realize it. In this world, those in the know refer to people with her ability as a hyperpract, a nice concept for someone who can seemingly enter in and out of our world based on perceptions allowing it- this allows a heady mix of fantasy combined with a mysterious love interest that has her running after him for the entire of the first volume. At times, at least initially, I found the shifts between our reality and other perceptions and realities a bit jaunty and worried it was a dream scenario, this subsides as the tales in both books rattle on, as you realize that as the reader you are learning as much as Blythe about her abilities and what it means.

It takes a little while to warm to Blythe as there isn’t much exposure time to her before the tale is already steaming along and around corners at breakneck speed. This combined with the somewhat odd ideas that are not fully presented at the start could make the series a bit of a struggle to begin with. I would say stay on for the ride though, the key is to just let yourself go with it, the fun is in the explanations and finding out just what this is all about with Blythe. Her friend Fletch, (a goth air host??) along with her much older Indian roommate Mrs. Battachrya who herself through age has unforeseen wisdom and perception, make for a compelling support cast, and could probably have done with a little more fleshing out, but lose out to the necessary exploration of the main hyperpraxis theme.

The art is very steady throughout, Perker clearly has a trained eye for facial expressions. Some characters are clearly different but some of the women say of the same 20-30 age, appear to have pretty much the same face- particularly eyes and nose, some subtle differentiation could have been drawn out more here. There are some great story-telling sequences, and negative space is used to great effect along with the themes of open blue skies and beginnings, ends, loops and omni-presence of realities and perceived realities.

In essence this book is bright and original, on the right side of trippy and has a strongly directional plot that allows you to feel the concepts being played out, and that there is indeed an end point. I also defy anyone not to love the last page of volume one. No spoilers here, you will just have to read it, and I bet you will pick up volume two, which only further builds on and improves the themes introduced in the first.

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