GRAPHIC NOVELS

Poison Flowers & Pandemonium

Fantagraphics Bks. May 2021. 300p. ISBN 9781683962748. $29.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
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Garishly clad villains, B-movie monsters, and femme fatales abound in this collection of four graphic novellas from Sala (Phantoms in the Attic), completed shortly before his death in March 2020. In “House of the Blue Dwarf” a psychic is lured to a vast mansion as part of a plot to capture The Bloody Cardinal, a former superhero turned master criminal despised by cops and crooks alike. A creepy bookseller urges a customer to skim a bestiary filled with creatures like The Werebat of Lover’s Lane and The Unfriendly Ebonites as prelude to revealing his own gruesome proclivities in “Monsters Illustrated.” In “Cave Girls of The Lost World” an aging inspector and his associate disagree on the veracity of a document detailing the adventures of a group of women stranded on a plateau inhabited by a variety of deadly threats. The final novella, “The Amazing Adventures of Fantomina Fantomella,” includes both thrilling action and a profound reflection on creativity, as the titular heroine’s battle against a horde of villains is interrupted by a mysterious figure who questions her backstory and characterization.
VERDICT A genuinely fun, energetic collection, as well as a lasting testament to Sala’s distinct talent.

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