Continuing the world tour of one of Millarworlds more popular characters, Hit-Girl heads towards violent conflict on the streets of India this week. The third part of this arc from Image Comics is a spectacular vision of beauty and the corruption that lies just beneath the surface.
It is a hard hitting and poignant story produced by some of the greatest creators working in comics today. Peter Milligan has been writing comics for a while now, having worked for both of the major publishers on some of the biggest titles. Alison Sampson is relatively new to comics but her work so far has been outstanding and instantly recognisable. In their hands, is there any limit to what Hit-Girl can become?
The Story on the Street
Hit-Girl finds a friend who offers her some comforts that she’s not used to and her influence is spreading to the children of Mumbai. But she can’t allow herself to forget her mission and some harsh words are going to come back to haunt her.
Peter Milligan weaves a complex web of characters throughout the pages of Hit-Girl. He reveals the narrative through a stream of interactions, moving from one character to the next like links in a chain. Hit-Girl herself moves through these links, the common denominator in the story, and forms the larger narrative.
The characters are all fully rounded, complex individuals with histories waiting to be explored. Any number of them could feature in their own story, filling page after page. This is one of Milligan’s strengths; he is able to create engrossing characters, full of life, in a very short amount of time. The cast for Hit-Girl: India is surprisingly large but does not feel overcrowded at any time.
The criminal underworld that is depicted is also the perfect foil for Hit-Girl. She is still a child, although older than her years, so the threat to other children makes it more personal for her. This is demonstrated through her actions, especially in this issue. She implicitly trusts Ram and puts her life in his hands. This is not something that she would do with an adult, especially one she barely knows. Milligan portrays Mindy’s strengths and weaknesses through her interactions with the other cast members.
As engaging as Milligan’s story is, the real star of this comic is the artwork by Alison Sampson and the colors by Triona Farrell. Together they have created a beautiful world for the characters to inhabit. Every page is so vibrant and energetic. The reader gets a real sense of location and the strange contradiction that is Mumbai city. The mix of affluence and poverty, sitting side by side, reflects the contrasting characters in the narrative.
Sampson’s style also contains an element of this contradiction. She has an expressionist style that is centred around a highly accurate architectural base. The settings are hyper realistic with an amazing attention to detail. The characters step into this world and then, as the action hots up, they twist the images to fit their warped behaviour.
Hit-Girl obviously has the greatest effect on the perspective within the panels but she isn’t the only one. It is as if Sampson is using composition and perspective to further character development. This means that some pages become almost ludicrous while others are overwhelming in their details. The notion of time within the narrative is controlled through the panel layouts and Sampson’s refusal to stick to the standard conventions of comic book storytelling.
Clem Robins’ lettering is more standard in presentation however minor inflections in the fonts give the characters individual voices. The placement of speech balloons adds to the pace of the narrative and gives Robins the chance to play with the interactions that are so important in Milligan’s script.
This version of Hit-Girl seems so removed from previous versions. There is a beauty in the imagery and a vulnerability in the characters that feed off each other and, in turn, fuel the greater narrative. Milligan is telling his story of a corrupt Indian city and fitting Hit-Girl into that. It works, and it works well but you do get the feeling this story could easily exist without Mindy’s presence.
Three issues into this four issue story and there is so much for the reader to immerse themselves in: the narrative, the art, the action. This Hit-Girl story is a spectacular read because it has so much going on and relays the information in such a surprising way. The comic is visually one of the best things currently on release. The warped realism of the art punctuates the social discourse at the heart of Milligan’s script and highlights the intriguing dissection of Hit-Girl as a character. You will come away from this comic believing you have read an entire arc, not just the standard 22 pages.