The Beauty started in 2011 as a one-shot in Top Cow Productions’ annual Pilot Season contest. The book–written by Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley with art by Haun and colors by John Rauch–is about a world where a sexually transmitted disease called “The Beauty” makes those who catch it more physically attractive with the only negative side effect being a slight, constant fever. Now, the story kicks off as an ongoing series at Image and while the first issue is exactly the same as that original one-shot (still available for free here) released 4 years ago, the concept still feels fresh.
The book’s tone is classic noir detective story. A girl with “The Beauty” seems to spontaneously combust on a crowded subway and before our apparent protagonists–police detectives Foster and Vaughn–can even start to ask how, the CDC shows up and takes over the investigation. That possible government conspiracy isn’t the only mystery the book teases, however. Haun and Hurley skillfully hint at other plot threads and it’s a feat that the issue, packed with info as it is, doesn’t feel overwhelming.
To quote Stefon from SNL, the book has everything. There’s the question of whether the disease’s side effects might be more dangerous than initially expected. There’s the mystery of how Vaughn accidentally contracted the disease. There’s even a great surprise ending. It’s no wonder the book won Pilot Season.
While the plot and the various mysteries this first issue sets up are probably what will keep readers coming back each month, the art is also strong. The credits are slightly different in the first Image-published issue than in the original one-shot, but whoever is ultimately responsible, Rauch or “Fonografiks,” they smartly distinguish who does and doesn’t have “The Beauty” by giving the infected a more vibrant coloring. The rest of the characters–and the world itself–have a grayer tone that’s more fitting with the grittier, darker line drawings.
Though there is one caveat. For those who purchase Rauch’s regular cover or even the variant by Jenny Frison, the art within the actual book will be perfectly enjoyable, but those who encounter the book through cover artist extraordinaire Kevin Wada’s variant may be a bit disappointed. His sexy, erie, evocative watercolors can tend to overshadow the art inside of the books he covers (the now-defunct She-Hulk and the current Catwoman, for instance). But perhaps asking the art in The Beauty to be more beautiful kind of misses the point.
By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over every detail of America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture and celebrity obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to. You can find her risking her life by reading comic books while walking down the crowded streets of New York City, having inappropriate emotional reactions at her iPad screen while riding the subway or occasionally letting her love of a band convince her to stand for hours on end in one of the city’s many purgatorial concert spaces. You can follow her on Twitter to read her insightful social commentary or more likely complain about how cold it is at @MarisaCarpico.