- The Only Living Girl, volume 2: Beneath the Unseen City
- Co-created & Written by David Gallaher
- Co-created & Illustrated by Steve Ellis
- Letters by Nate Pride
- Serialized at www.onlylivinggirl.com
Harvey Award-winning graphic novel stars David Gallaher and Steve Ellis return with their mysterious world full of super science… and ancient secrets, in the second follow-up graphic novel to THE ONLY LIVING BOY series. When members of her city are poisoned by an unknown element, Zandra Parfitt, known as “Zee,” discovers there’s only one place to find help: Dianoia, the deadly catacombs under an invisible city. But when Zee, and her friends, Erik Farrell, the Only Living Boy, and Morgan the Mermidonian warrior, embark on their quest, they quickly realize that their lives are also at risk. And if their adventure doesn’t destroy them… the Consortium and the diabolical Doctor Twice are lurking in the wings to finish the job.
Zee Parfitt isn’t just any average girl. She’s a certifiable genius with an insatiable curiosity & the ability to think outside of any box she finds herself stuck in. With her friends, Erik Farrell & Morgan, her search for a cure for the mysterious radiation that threatens their world has taken them across a vast ocean in search of the Primordial Intelligence.
Eventually, I’m gonna run out of superlatives (see that, I’m already resorting to fancy words like superlative) to use on this series of books from David Gallaher & Steve Ellis. My biggest regret when that happens will be that these guys will lose interest in a hack like me & move on to another comic review website. So far, that hasn’t happened, and we’re just going to take things one day at a time. One of the reasons I haven’t run out of things to say is that Gallaher & Ellis have managed to spin things into new territory with every story arc (my wife has a different opinion on the subject, but we’re not here to talk about me).
The Only Living Boy followed Erik Farrell on a quest to liberate the Patchwork Planet and its diverse people from evil overlord Baalikar & the scientist Doctor Once. That was more a story about growth as Erik was tossed from place to place, pretty much relying on people around him to get over his obstacles until the climax of the book. In The Only Living Girl, the focus is on Zee. She’s a little more proactive than Erik was from the start and her character is established as something of an over-achiever, always trying to prove herself rather than rely on anyone.
If I’m being honest, I like Zee a little more than I did Erik, but she’s a different character telling a different kind of story. That’s a testament to Gallaher’s work as a writer, his ability to create two characters who are so different that they each inspire very different reactions from a reader. Where Erik’s story was about him learning to deal with his problems instead of running away from them, Zee’s is all about tackling them head on. What’s great about these stories is that it’s all set up in the framework of a bizarre world, populated by strange people doing strange things. I’m not going to give anything away, but the society found in the Unseen City is one of the coolest concepts I’ve seen in a comic like this.
The other person responsible for this crazy roller coaster ride is artist Steve Ellis. In keeping with the idea of the “patchwork planet” of Chimerika, Ellis manages to string together a series of different environments, populating them with unique creatures of all shapes & descriptions. He’s able to take a being without human qualities, still managing to portray emotion through facial features. Beyond just the design of the book, Ellis also has a solid handle on laying out an action sequence. It’s worth mentioning that The Only Living… series is great for all ages, so in this case “action” doesn’t necessarily equate to violence in order to deliver on the thrills & chills.
Where Erik’s story arc was very much a through the looking glass kind of tale, Zee’s is more about coming to terms with who you really are and stepping away from the pressure of outside- in Zee’s case parental- influences. Her growth as a character is a more subtle one than Erik’s as it’s coming from a more internalized conflict and isn’t quite as reactionary. It’s still a very action-packed story, with some entertaining turns along the way, and is very well suited to some shared reading between kids & parents.
Final Score: 10