Review - Pirouette #1

"It won't come off!"

There's a lot to be said about a family outing to the circus. The sights, the sounds...all of it makes for a rather exciting day. What attendees aren't privy to is the goings-on with the employees of the circus. Sometimes, the interactions are just as ugly some of the circus performers themselves and that ugliness is on full display in Pirouette #1. The issue is written by Mark L. Miller, illustrated by Carlos Granda and lettered by Jim Campbell.

The circus is the Greatest Show On Earth, unless you’re the attraction. Raised from infancy by duplicitous clowns who entertain by day and menace by night, Pirouette dreams of washing the paint from her face and escaping to a better life far away from her cruel adoptive circus family… because when the spotlights dim and the crowd disperses, the clown princess’ big-top dreams give way to a nightmarish world of monsters with painted smiles.

Pirouette as a character is one troubled by her current life; one that is implied to be anything but the one she was destined for. In that sense, Miller characterizes her efficiently, positioning her in a world that's content to abuse her emotionally for the sake of profit. Much of her position in the circus is done by contrasting her with an acrobat named Elena, presenting Pirouette as someone desperate to be anything but a clown. The circus itself delivers itself well as a character too, highlighting a world rife with turmoil behind the scenes, even if it shows joy and entertainment on the part of the masses. There is one instance where Miller relays a sentiment of sexual violence that probably wasn't necessary to advance the story and does interrupt the flow somewhat.

As the carnival goes, Granda does an excellent job with very clean lines and character depictions. Many of the audience members are done in a way that ensures you know they're part of the audience, but none of them really stand out so much that it takes away from the main characters. Many of the panels boast a grandiose emotional delivery, further setting the stage for the impending horrors set to be unleashed upon the reader. The opening pages in particular are pretty terrifying, with Pirouette struggling to remove the make-up that hides her true personality and past. Granda's work effectively handles the energy of the circus as crowd-goers come and go, oblivious to the turmoil behind the scenes.

Pirouette #1 is a fascinating foray into the emotional depravity on display in a traveling circus. Sure, there are going to be characters ranging from a bearded lady to an overweight tightrope walker, but all that show does little justice to the emotions behind the scenes. Miller's pacing is very methodical and the ending of the first issue presents a pretty fantastic set-up for the second issue. Granda's art is powerful and emotional in a way that underscores the depravity occurring amongst the stars of the show. Pirouette #1 is a very intriguing first issue that piques the curiosity in peculiar ways, offering a tale that will no doubt go much deeper then one would expect from a traveling circus.

Pirouette #1 is available now.