Advance Review Of Twisted Romance #3: Taking Love To The Stars

by Richard Bruton

Another week, another slice of Twisted Romance. This four-issue weekly series, masterminded by Alex de Campi, has proved a fabulous thing thus far. Issue one’s horror-themed tales were good, but the beautifully done tales of modern romance of issue two were simply excellent. Now time for issue three. Again, following the same format; with de Campi writing the main strip, joined this time round by Carla Speed McNeil. On the flip side there’s a backup from Margaret Trauth, and sandwiched in between a short prose tale from Jess Bradley.

The theme this issue is space, or sci-fi, and although it’s not up there with the excellence of that second issue, it’s still maintaining a high standard.

(Invincible Heart, written by Alex de Campi, art by Carla Speed McNeil)

Invincible Heart sees De Campi again playing to the artistic strengths of her collaborator. Carla Speed McNeil was a huge favourite of mine way back in the day when I first discovered Finder, and her black and white artwork, with beautifully done tones, fits this sci-fi futurist tale perfectly.

The Alecto,”most elusive privateer on the Frontier” has been downed, and it’s fallen upon Capt. Justin Rao of the Dreadnaught Invincible to affect the capture of the infamous Black Domhnall and his crew.

The interrogation begins. And Capt. Rao is in trouble right away…thoughts turning to something very un-Captain like when considering his beautiful, beguiling, long-haired prisoner.

(Oh, you’ve got to love McNeil’s fabulous expressions there. From Invincible Heart.)

Things get even more troublesome when a mission to answer a distress call goes disastrously wrong. The Captain’s in desperate trouble on the planet, and with his chief injured, take a wild guess who turns up as a knight in shining armor (well, pilot lounging seductively in the captain’s chair at least!) Oh, be still the Captain’s beating heart…

(Oh, what’s a Captain to do when the prisoner insists on being so damned attractive? From Invincible Heart.)

The higher ups want Dom dead, but is it because he’s a privateer or because of what secrets he holds? And when struggling with the unmistakable attraction to the long-haired cutey and doing his duty, how far will the Captain go? All is answered, wrapped up in a happy ending. Again, it’s a simple romance tale, wrapped up in a sci-fi setting. It works for sure, but compared to the genius of issue 2’s Twinkle & The Star, it’s just a little lightweight. Fun, cute, great black and white art from McNeil, but slight.

(Olivia Lies, Pierced. By Margaret Trauth, from Twisted Romance issue 2.)

Margaret Trauth’s backup strip in this space-bound themed anthology is Olivia Lies, Pierced. And from the moment you see the artwork, bold and fun, you know where it’s going. Two cadets at play, an attraction might be there, but they’re going the wrong way about it to find out. And although the art is fun, the tale itself is just that little bit disjointed and choppy in reading. Too much going on, too much visual distraction that doesn’t really add to the tale being told. It’s fun but doesn’t really deliver what it was intending to deliver.

Jess Bradley’s a name I know from UK children’s comic The Phoenix. But this is something that has a decidedly adult ring to it, a sci-fi tale, all end of the world last-minute emotions.

Hansen and Cline have a mission, climb the tower, get to the portal at the top, plant the bomb, and unfortunately, don’t come back. A one-way mission. The portal appeared a year ago, unleashing alien horrors on the planet. And now one old soldier and a Swedish scientist are all the hope Earth has to stop it. A shared mission, companionship, friendship, and then something more. It’s a heartfelt little tale, building to the end that must come, but doing it with a subtle, quietly lovely tone.

Twisted Romance Issue 3, published by Image Comics. Invincible Heart written by Alex De Campi, art by Carla Speed McNeil. The Last Minute written by Jess Bradley. Olivia Lies, Pierced written and illustrated by Margaret Trauth.