Saturday, December 08, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #342: Spell Checkers, Vols. 1 & 2 by Jamie S. Rich & Nicolas Hitori De

I usually like anti-heroes. The pure goody-goody types are bland and dull; I like a bit of edge in my main characters, some actual humanity.

But it can go too far in the other direction. I don't insist on pure heroes, but I'd rather not read about out-and-out villains who don't even try to redeem themselves. They need to do something positive for me to be happy; they can't just torment others and destroy their lives.

And that brings me to Spell Checkers, two graphic novels (here, have links to one and two) from 2010-2011 from Jamie S. Rich (writer) and Nicolas Hitori De (art) with some assistance by Joelle Jones (covers and flashback scenes). I see there is a third book to finish up the series; I won't be looking for it.

The concept is great: what if the usual trio of high school mean girls (one with each hair color, natch) were not just mean, but actual witches, with the power to control minds and do whatever they want? Sounds like bitchy fun, right? But what if they get their "revenge" on a mousy girl who tried to get out of their control by destroying her humanity and turning her into their eternal slave? Wouldn't that be the best!?

If you said "yes," I don't think I want to know you.

The above is basically the plot of the first book: mysterious messages appear, magical problems arise, and our bitchy triumfeminate start to fight with each other. But it turns out the culprit is another girl, trying to break their iron hold on the school, and she is utterly destroyed, because the evil girls are our main characters.

(Literally destroyed: she's depicted as a paper-doll version of herself from then on, and doesn't speak again. This is totally horrific, and it's the triumphant action of our heroines.)

The second book, unsubtly subtitled Son of a Preacher Man, isn't quite as unpleasant, but it is more confusing. Two new teenage boys show up in town, the (yes) sons of a preacher, and I had serious trouble telling them apart for a long time. (Hitori De draws these stories in a manga-inspired style that has a lot of energy but also the common manga problem that everyone has basically the same face.) One is a bad boy, and one is a good boy, or maybe they're both bad in different ways, and our three quite bad girls interact with them and call each other sluts for it until there's a big supernatural ending where the girls are once again victorious. This time, they win over something that's at least arguably more evil than they are, which is at least a step in the right direction.

Hitori De's art is fun, and the dialogue is enjoyably bitchy throughout. But the plot of the first book is just so cartoonishly evil -- let's see these teen Dark Lords of Hot Topic consolidate their power! -- that there's no way I can recommend these books to anyone not actually sociopathic.

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