"Veil" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally released as Veil #1 - #5
Written by Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Toni Fejzula
2014, 138 Pages
Graphic Novel released on January 14th, 2015
I've seen a lot of crazy shit in Manhattan, but I've never seen a nude woman walking down the street. Maybe I'm just not visiting the right areas. That's how Veil starts out, but this is far from a raunchy sex comedy. The title character (the nude woman) has no memory of who she is or how she got here. She has an effect on the men around her and not just because she's not wearing any clothes. They lose themselves when they see her. It's like their innermost traits are brought to the surface. Meanwhile, on another side of town, a magician finishes a summoning ritual for a mobster to seemingly no effect. I wonder if the two are related.
It doesn't take a genius to start connecting the dots in Veil. Her and the magician are linked, but the reason for it is not immediately clear. What is certain, however, is that Veil is not just a pretty face. There's something dark and powerful lurking behind those naïve eyes, but she may not even know the full story.
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There is a vulnerability to Veil that is immediately noticeable. While she first appears completely in the buff, the nudity is never gratuitous. In fact, artist Toni Fejzula goes to great lengths to hide the naughty bits with clever use of shadow. Veil is meant to be beautiful, but you want to cover her up when you see her standing there and protect her from the lecherous men on the sidewalk.
Later on, when Veil's true nature is revealed, it's a shock to the system. How can something so terrifying come from such an innocent looking girl? Even when she's fully transformed (into what, you ask? Read the comic!), there's still a purity to her. Although her appearance is monstrous, there's a kind soul in there. That vulnerability is still present.
Each issue of Veil begins with a nine-panel page without a spec of text. These images set the tone for the chapter, often with closeups of things that may appear out of context, such as a shell casing or a blood soaked hand. This works very well and helps keep the excitement high as the story continues. In re-reading the story, I found some connections between the images too.
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The full graphic novel is very atmospheric. You get a lot from a silent image or a character's quick glance. While this helps shape the overall mood of the story, it leaves several unanswered questions. Who is Veil's boss? What are the mobsters really trying to do? The comic is still pretty solid, but there are these gaps that the nerd in me wants to see filled in.
Greg Rucka is no stranger to strong female characters. Veil isn't quite as tough and independent as some of his other creations. She needs someone to look out for her, especially at first, but with time she learns to be her own woman, albeit one that can transform into a monster.