Karmen #1, released by Image and written and illustrated by Guillem March, is exactly the sort of unique, offbeat comic that Image fans have come to know and love. The comic chronicles the tale of an unconventional angel named Karmen and the young woman who becomes her latest charge.
Depicted as a thin, young woman with short pink hair and a smatter of freckles across her nose, Karmen seems to have a carefree, almost playful attitude as she first graces the pages of the comic. From her neck to her high heel-clad toes, Karmen appears to wear a skin-tight black suit with all the bones of a human skeleton in stark white against it. The result is somehow both eerie and sensual and, ultimately, like nothing you picture when you think of a stereotypical angel.
Karmen #1 variant cover by Milo Manara
The comic begins by telling a brief backstory of its other main character, Catalina, and her history with a male character named Xisco, who appears to have grown from childhood best friend to eventual boyfriend. Karmen deals with mature topics like grief, suicide, and death as Catalina discovers that Xisco has been cheating on her with her friend and roommate.
Another matter that makes Karmen a comic for mature readers only is the fact that, when Karmen first enters Catalina’s storyline, Catalina is nude, and remains that way for the rest of the issue. The nudity is not gratuitous, however, and in fact plays into the tragic nature of the plot at this point. Catalina’s lack of clothing is perhaps a representation of humanity’s desire to hide their true selves behind modesty, and this is evidenced by Catalina’s attempts to cover herself with her arms and hands as she begins her adventure with Karmen. By the end of the issue, however, the nudity feels more like a visual portrayal of the freedom that Catalina is feeling.
The artwork throughout the issue is beautifully done, with a bit of a classic comic book artwork feel to it. The expressions and emotions on the characters faces are clearly drawn, and the reader is pulled into the story even further because of this. The colors and tones are muted, but there are elements that stand out – in particular, Karmen’s black and white form. Everything about the art and the layout seem carefully crafted to pull the reader further into the world of Karmen.
Originally released as a graphic novel in Belgium, Karmen has been translated into English for the U.S. as a five-part series. Spanish-born creator, March, who has done work as an artist for DC Comics on titles like Catwoman and Harley Quinn, has the following to say about this labor of love:
“Karmen is a story about what it takes to make a real change in life. After working on it for six years, I can say I´ve put my all into this project,” said March. “I decided to write the script because I´m a much better storyteller when I´m doing the whole thing. If you know me from my superhero work, I´m sure Karmen will surprise you. I can´t express how proud I am of this book, and how happy I am that it will finally be released in print for the U.S. audience.”
A touching and emotional tale with a touch of humor, Karmen is promised to be a tale of redemption that’s brimming with surprises. The second issue is set to release on April 14th.
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.