With films such as Neon Demon and the imminent remake of Suspiria (please, god, no), there seems to be a current slew of horror titles focused on the creative arts, Hollywood, and the insidious nature of our current obsession with celebrity. Glitterbomb, a new horror story from Image Comics, focuses on the same motifs, using monstrous imagery to explore society’s preoccupation with the fears, insecurities and desires that are inherent in our celebrity-driven culture.
In Glitterbomb, Farrah Durante is an aging actress, trying out for parts which she is neither young nor beautiful enough to get. After a frustrating audition, Durante finds herself considering suicide by drowning, but as she walks into the sea, she seems to awaken an unknown force that lies beneath the depths, something dark and parasitic that slowly starts to have a demonic effect on her mind and body. The depictions of Farrah in her insectival, alien-esque state – complete with segmented mouth and dripping tentacles – are one of the many highlights of the comic, particularly when juxtaposed with the more mundane, naturalistic sequences of the book.
Writer Jim Zub has an obvious ear for dialogue, writing characters that seem complex and multi-faceted, even when only having a few lines to say. The scene in which Farrah meets Brooke, an actress auditioning for the same part in a new TV show, is an effective example of fully-realising characters in a way that never feels expositional. Similarly, the voice of the “monster” beneath the sea, (and Farrah’s voice after being infected) imparts a huge amount of information, even though it only occurs on a couple of pages. The idea of fame not stopping someone from ultimately just being a piece of meat is an interesting one, and I’m excited to see where Zub takes this in further issues.
Artist Djibril Morisette-Phan has a style well suited to the tone of Glitterbomb, shifting between sensitive portrayals of the characters and those that are monstrous and grotesque. Although the artwork is stylised and animated, it seems to reflect the moral of the story overall – that the perfect, cheerful sheen of Hollywood often masks something far more disturbing and disarming. K. Michael Russell’s colours, ranging from muted greys to hot and violent reds, is also a perfect fit, creating something that looks satisfying on every single page.
Somewhere between All About Eve and Cronenberg’s The Fly, Glitterbomb is a dark and gruesome exploration of the vacuous nature of our celebrity-driven society. Zub does a great job of setting up his characters in the first issue, but with the potential to pose some really interesting questions as the series continues, Glitterbomb establishes itself as a story definitely worth following, especially as it veers so effortlessly between the beautiful and the profane.
Reviewer: Max Deacon