100 Days, 100 Comics #8: ‘Air’ vol 1

Air vol 1In theory, this Vertigo series was tailor made for my reading tastes. It opens up with an homage to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, which was a life-altering read for me. It’s got a kiss of Pynchonian conspiracy to it. M.K. Perker’s artwork is vintage Vertigo, so it should be able to carry that story well enough to sell it to me. So why did it leave me so flat?

I picked this up for a flight to New York last month, and I ripped through it at the gate waiting to board, so it definitely flowed. I found myself flipping back through scenes at the close to try to figure out why I wasn’t more moved. There really is a great kernel of a concept in the series, and it’s a fine tale. It just didn’t resonate with me like it was meant to be told in comics. It feels like I’m reading an adaptation. There are a couple of dreamy sequences that open up individual issues, and there’s a villain with a boring brain swelling out of his head, but outside of that, most of the story visually is just very well drawn sequences that content-wise aren’t nearly as compelling as what I’d have in my head if Air had been left to prose. No compelling character designs or innovative layout work — just straight playing along with the literal narrative. I think it’s an example of what illustration can do to rob magical realism of its potency, and I’d be very interesting in reading this book as prose. I even think I’d pick up another G. Willow Wilson story. But I don’t see myself picking it up in serialized issues or subsequent trades.

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