Friday, October 17, 2008

Casey Blue: Beyond tomorrow

This recently concluded mini-series flew under the radar of both fans and the critics, much like most of Wildstorm's titles. Not counting their troubled superhero line, most of what the imprint publishes can be boiled down to "Watchmen"-inspired comics ("Red Menace", "Wintermen", "Programme"), or semi-manga titles like "Casey Blue".

"Casey Blue" is the brainchild of writer B.Clay Moore (Hawaiian dick, War hymns, Leading man), and as such works in a similar well-paced, high on action vein. Artist Carlo Barberi (Gen13) is thus given a lot of room to showcase his love of the female form, and dynamic storytelling.

The story's soaked in a trippy horror/SF vibe that's boiling under the surface of the seemingly normal teenage girl's ordinary life. Of course, that's just the start of the creators' sprawling vision, which quickly grows beyond the format of a six-issue mini-series. Thus, what at first glance appears to be a movie pitch in the sequential form, ends up becoming a pilot episode of a TV-series, so to speak.

In fact, the authors are so fixated on Casey, and her eventual destiny, that most of the cast in the mini unintentionally end up serving as stereotypes, mere parts of the suburban backdrop that the reader is familiar with, before the plot launches in a Terminator meets Matrix combination.

At first glance, it's hard to find anything really unique about the project that captured the editor's attention, yet like most of B. Clay Moore's comics, it works so well, and reads so fluid that one can't help but sit and enjoy. Much like Top Cow's "Necromaner", WildStorm has seen fit to publish a sleek genre story starring a female lead that doesn't so much evoke "Buffy the vampire slayer", but works as it's own thing.

The comic is volent and bloody, but, perhaps because of the age and naivete of it's protagonist, works fine without crossing the border into dark and mature storytelling. Even though it's mostly an action-oriented affair, and functioning fine within those perimeters, "Casey Blue" does offer some character development.

Considering the detachment the main character feels towards her surroundings, the internal narration we, the readers are treated to is very much needed and pulled of in a manner that is both sympathetic and informative, without being boring and overwhelming. The character designs are very distinctive even before the book introduces the skinsuits and body-armor. Nevertheless Barberi's eye remains focused towards the idealized human form, which remains part and parcel considering the genre.

The mini ends up on a conclusion that is clearly meant only to designate a chapter-break, working to separate Casey from her school-friends and the new life as an action heroine that awaits her. It's clear that she is meant to directly follow up and meet with several characters in a similar predicament, with the only major loose-end being our not getting any real pay-off from her encounter with the FBI agent that has some clues to the alien threat that looms above her. It would be a shame not to see him reunited with Casey, potentially as a love-interest that was missing from this, the first mini-series.

And yet, it's uncertain if WildStorm will continue with the idea, and have Casey and her new friends run away from someone close to her that has been "seeded", towards her future in the all-out war. There is potential to be gained from seeing Casey Blue's adventures continue on in an ongoing series, even, but that will likely not be the case.

The lack of a strong "hook", or any other really distinctive elements, coupled with the relatively low profile of her creators, have all about doomed our chances of seeing the heroine's story continue in the sequential form. The lack of strong sales and general reader apathy to this, the character's first outing seem dead-set to repeat the failure of Robert Kirkman's "Cloudfall", but there's always hope that the series will find new life and a wider audience, when published in the trade paperback format.