Review - Beauty #1 (@ImageComics)

"This was a disease that people actually wanted."

Like it or not, society places a lot of emphasis on outward beauty. This can have all manner of effects on everyone in the world, ranging from supreme self-confidence to shattered self-esteem. If there was an easy way to be beautiful, the question would be whether or not people would want that or not. In Beauty #1 from Image Comics, being beautiful is both a gift and a curse. The issue is written by Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley, illustrated by Haun, colored by John Rauch and lettered by Fonografiks.

Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is attainable. The vast majority of the population has taken advantage of it, but Detectives Foster and Vaughn will soon discover it comes at a terrible price.

Full credit to Haun and Hurley--they've blended two seemingly disparate concepts that can be tied to one another into something that's portrayed as all upside. Any communicable disease isn't something that people actively seek out, but that's because most of those diseases have negative effects on those affected. Haun and Hurley turns that concept on its head, giving people something they might actually want in terms of immense beauty. The concept definitely leverages society's ongoing obsession with looks and outward appearance, yet not without creating controversy among some. Like any movement, there are detractors who are opposed to the movement for whatever reason and it looks like Haun and Hurley are content to plumb the depths of the social intricacies that accompany a new movement such as guaranteed beauty.

Haun's artistic style is simple yet effective. He effectively portrays the difference between those with the Beauty and those without, effectively visualizing the difference in appearance that today's society already emphasizes. The characters are definitely the focus of the story, as many of the backgrounds are very linear and lack details. It doesn't hurt the overall look of the book, but many of the characters feel as if they're part of a layer set atop the backgrounds, as opposed to inhabiting the backgrounds. Still, action sequences appear realistic and Haun captures the frenetic energy of a criminal chase through a claustrophobic apartment building very well. Rauch's colors skew dark, casting a pall over the concept of a society full of beautiful people.

Beauty #1 is a really interesting concept. Capitalizing on the notion that there might be diseases people want if they could have a positive impact on lives is a unique twist, especially when that benefit has to do with outer beauty. Haun and Hurley's script is fast-paced and opens with a lot of intrigue. Haun's illustrations effectively demonstrate the dichotomy between the beauty haves and have nots. Beauty #1 starts off very curiously and at least demands the reader return for the second issue.

Beauty #1 is in stores now.