Tuesday, July 29, 2008



Writer: Rebecca Donner
Art: Inaki Miranda & Eva de la Cruz

Flames play a key role in this new MINX book. And like the haphazardness of flames bursting forth from a campfire, Danni, the main character, moves through her life without much purpose. In fact, she is an amazingly unrealized character at the beginning, as she seems to be living for others and not herself. She smolders with desire for something... anything - and one really feels this from the amazing facial expressions Inaki Miranda provides. While at the end of the book she winds up in the exact same position, both physically and mentally, as she was seen on the first page, her unrealized character finds openings to branch out and live for herself throughout the book.

As is often the case, her father leaves Danni alone with her mom before the story begins. Rather, he disappears as he is more of a apparition than anything else in this story. So Danni's mom moves her from the city to timber country of the pacific northwest, which Danni calls "the middle of nowhere." In her new town she not only has to readjust to the culture and new friends, but her father leaving. While none of these make her an atypical teen, she obviously struggles with the tumult.

Within the first few pages Danni's life becomes more hectic as her mother decides to move in with her new boyfriend who, as one is opt to be in a struggling town with little prospects, drinks a bit too much and has more than a bit of a mean streak. His character is rather ill defined other than showcasing his flaws. In fact, all the adults in the book are less than properly fleshed out, though it is less distracting than one would think. I like to think that this was intentional, as it was meant to be told through a teenagers eyes, but I might be being a bit too nice. That said the teenage characters are far better realized. And from them the real Danni starts to emerge as she seems to feed off their energy.

Danni trails her mother like smoke throughout the book. Have ever tried to hear smoke, I feel her mom sort of viewed Danni as smoke too, neither really seeing or hearing her. When they first move into their new house, Danni is forced to share a room with her mom's boyfriend's son, Haskel. Danni's future room needs to be cleaned up and after seeing the mess Haskel's room is in Danni longs for her own space. Yet her mother forgets to help clear out the junk and much later in the novel says ""Shoot, I forgot about clearing out this room for you, honey." It is as if Danni is just an afterthought, a shallow responsibility for her mom. From this it is not hard to see that Danni struggles with asserting her needs.

And here I think Donner's script hits the high water mark. She really seems to understand that Danni lacks motivation. She easily takes on the habits or traits of others around her, from her mom's stoicism to her best friend's feigned rebelliousness and to Haskel's outright criminal rebelliousness. I would not call her a mimic exactly, but she definitely struggles with who she is. And, as stated, her living situation does not help matters.

As the book's back cover clearly makes known, Danni and Haskel become an item. He is what the press would deem an eco-terrorist. And Danni follows him out one night and begins to join in on his tree spiking activities. His personality is almost completely defined though his appearance and body language. Again Miranda does an amazing job capturing the emotion and turmoil of a troubled youth. His trademark look is sort of a flaming yin-yang symbol on a black shirt. In fact he only wears this shirt unless he is out saving the environment. And what I first saw as the burning, smoldering, passion he held underneath his rough exterior, I later understood there was quite a bit more to his avatar.

As Danni and Haskel's relationship grows so do their targets. Danni is conflicted as her best friend does not support her new extracurricular activities and her mother's boyfriend's economic struggles to keep his bar afloat tax the entire house. These all lead to the climax of the book. And while I am not going to give away the ending, lets just say the fires that were started throughout really take off and combust with much flair and gusto. I was quite happy with the ending, as I felt the journey Donner laid out for Danni to maneuver really took her from visitor in her own life to at least full fledged member. It does not end happy, and nor should it as many of the choices made by many of the characters were neither good nor healthy. This is a story of Danni trying to make do in the small spaces she is given. And while it feels purposely open ended for a sequel, it ends most satisfying.

This is the fifth MINX book I have read and although I am well outside the target market, I keep liking what I read. They are just good stories. Is this a comic classic that one will come back to year after year? No. But the story has much to showcase and is a compelling read. Also, why are not more TPBs released in digest form? I love the way they fit in my hands far more than the traditional comic sized TPB.

Grade: Read

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