"Girlfiend" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written and Illustrated by The Pander Brothers
2015, 292 Pages
Trade Paperback released on April 1st, 2015
There are some couples that burn red hot, even if it's only for a short amount of time. This can be disastrous for them and everyone else in their wake. Romeo and Juliet. Bonnie and Clyde. Kim and Kanye. You can now add Nick and Katina to that list in Girlfiend from the Pander Brothers. Nick is a coroner who was just dicked over by his girlfriend. Katina is a small town girl who just rolled into scenic Seattle...and she happens to be a vampire. Through a series of bizarre coincidences, Katina ends up on Nick's examination table, where she suddenly wakes up. It's love at first bite. Wakka Wakka!
Katina and Nick's relationship is a strange one. They both needed someone at the very moment. If they had crossed paths the day before or the day after, it might not have worked out. They were just both so damaged and full of baggage that they complemented each other well. The two make this instant connection that blots out all of their problems.
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That only works for so long and goes right out the window once Katina gets hungry again. Nick tries to do the humane thing of swiping blood for her from work (although why do they keep blood at the morgue anyway?), but that only holds her over for a bit. This leads to a hunt of a very specific subset of people, which brings several different elements together, including a street gang on the run from the cops, a police detective that had a haunting experience with vampires, and the rest of Katina's vampire pack. The Pander Brothers weave these together seamlessly to the point where every plot thread comes together in a perfect bow by the end of the book...which subsequently explodes.
There are some interesting twists on the vampire mythos within Girlfiend. Katina can walk in the daylight, which makes her unique amongst her kind. Granted, that's something we've seen in Blade and American Vampire too. Instead of two fangs, she has four. Two of them work to paralyze her victim, while the other two pierce the skin and drain the blood. It makes for a pretty cool image outlining her face, hair, and fangs that serves as the chapter breaks for the graphic novel.
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The Pander Brothers' artwork is pretty stellar. It lines up with the story perfectly in that it's filled with a kinetic energy. It's never at rest. You can feel that intensity running through the entire book, like fast music should be pumping as the soundtrack.
My one issue with the artwork is that it's presented in black and white. This would look incredible with even hints of color, such as the red in blood splatter. There are some characters in the vampire pack and the street gang that look similar, so it can be difficult to tell them apart sometimes, especially towards the end when all the groups are coming together. That being said, the Pander Brothers do use the shadows very well throughout Girlfiend. The vampires have a weakness to strobe lights and they're represented in the comic with an alternating checkerboard effect that looks really cool.
The Pander Brothers deliver an absolutely gorgeous graphic novel that is often drenched in bloodshed. Girlfiend shows the lengths that people can go in the name of love. If helping your significant other survive means hunting down thugs and having her drink their blood, then so be it. I think there was a “Love Is” comic strip about that once.