Review - Unnatural #1 (@imagecomics)

"It's all so...wrong. What's happening to me?"

Society has a way of thrusting its demands on its inhabitants. Some of those demands are more social contract, but there are others that are more dictatorial in nature. Unnatural #1 from Image Comics looks at the latter through the eyes of animals. The issue is written and illustrated by Mirka Andolfo.

Leslie is a simple pig girl. She loves sushi, she’s stuck with a job she hates, and she lives under a brutal totalitarian government—one that punishes transgressors for anything deemed “unnatural.” Leslie dreams of something different for herself. But those dreams are becoming dangerous...

Andolfo chose an appropriate name for the book as "unnatural" is about an apt description for everything that transpires within its pages. That's not to say that "unnatural" is bad; rather, Andolfo is keen to invert many of our more accepted social norms in an effort to make the story interesting. The entire world is one inhabited by animals who express emotions and personalities that Andolfo offers as a perfect example of anthropomorphism. Personality-wise, Leslie there's not really anything too strikingly out of the ordinary, but Andolfo's decision to both make her a pig and part of a forced procreation societal framework is fascinating. Probably what gives the book its edge is Andolfo's decision to both give Leslie (a pig) erotic dreams about a wolf and the unabashed sexuality that pervades the entirety of the issue.

The artwork in the book is extremely stylized and sharp. Andolfo gives all the characters plenty of human traits that sometime force the reader to remind themselves that they're actually looking at animals. That being said, Andolfo does lean heavily on sexualization, primarily in how he renders Leslie as extremely voluptuous. Her looks are indicative of her personality in a way and Andolfo seems to illustrate the other characters in a similar fashion; for instance, the lecherous alligator boss looks like an old pervert. There's a dourness to the illustrations that Andolfo leans on to remind the reader that despite Leslie's fantasies, she's still living in something of a totalitarian nightmare. The panels are largely arranged in a neat and tidy format save for a few insets and overlays that Andolfo peppers in for variety.

Unnatural #1 leans into its title and pulls it off well. Leslie is a city pig just trying to make ends meet, but she's forced to contend societal expectations. Andolfo uses the script as a means of pointing out that individuals in a repressive society find ways to break out--even if it's just mentally at first. His artwork is vivid and bold, convincing the reader that there could possibly be a world of animals living under a mandate of planned procreation. Unnatural #1 is an interesting first issue that asks deeper philosophical questions once you get past the wine and bubble baths to unwind.

Unnatural #1 is available July 4.