Written by Adam Gallardo
Art by Todd Demong
Simon Pulse, 2008
By Miles Baker
Beneath the bright colours and sprite-like characters of 100 Girls, there is an incredible darkness that I’m having a little trouble getting my head around. There are times I think that Gallardo so wants to move onto the next plot point that he forgets to deal with the aftermath of the last one. He’s created a story with an incredibly fast pace, which is exciting, but he’s forgetting that there are times when he needs to address some big moral issues. At around page 40, our main character, a teenager named Sylvia, kills a federal agent with her bare hands. The agent begs for his life as he is being killed, yet the moral implications of this event is never addressed. Yes, he’s working for an evil federal agency, but it’s still murder. Our innocent heroine has moved from being a shy over-achiever to a cold-blooded murderer, and we never get a “My god, what have I done!” moment.
I think I needed that moment.
For the remainder of the book, I’m not on Sylvia’s side. She does a lot of morally ambivalent things, and, especially later on, she commits some incredible acts of violence. By the end she is, literally and ethically, a monster. I’m just not sure if there’s a moment where the reader is forced to question whether Sylvia is right in how she’s going about accomplishing her objectives. Because you shouldn’t.
If you can look beyond this or disagree with my take on it, there’s a pretty cool comic here. Sylvia is a test-tube created weapon baby a scientist/father-figure liberated from a state-controlled laboratory. Soon Sylvia meets a girl who seems identical to her but is without Sylvia’s super strength – she has her own power. When the Feds come on the scene and try to take them back in, Sylvia takes matters into her own hands. The next morning Sylvia has found that she’s physically absorbed her twin, while her twin’s consciousness persists inside Sylvia’s mind. The two girls in one body travel across the country, collecting other twins. Finally, there is a showdown at the laboratory where they were created.
The art is in interesting juxtaposition to the dark subject manner. You’d think they might have gone with an artist with a grittier style for this subject matter, but they don’t need to. Demong’s style is versatile enough to go to the dark places without looking out of place. His action sequences are exciting, and it’s neat to see Sylvia use all of her many powers by the end of the book because of how well he renders them.
The scientist who created the 100 girls, Dr. Carver, is the real highlight of the book. First, it’s nice to see a well-written female antagonist. Second, it’s nice to see that she’s a fully balanced human being with lust and love and deep caring for others. This character addresses the moral problems that Sylvia should have. By the end of the book, I have a lot more sympathy for Dr. Carver, and I hope she shows up in book two.
I think 100 Girls is a pretty good comic from someone who doesn’t have a lot of credits under his belt. I just think Gallardo needs to think about what he wants his audience to take away from his main character. She’s a strong charcter, yes, but also a remorseless mass-murderer, and I’m not sure what to make of that.