Written by Jim Zub and Holly Raychelle Hughes
Art by Djibril Morissette-Phan and K. Michael Russell
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
Published by Image Comics
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
Time heals all wounds -– wait, let’s try this again. Time heals most wounds, provided said wound isn’t from a stab in the back because then, time only serves to make a deeper cut. Glitterbomb #3
Last issue’s representation of Los Angeles was submerged in darkness, an overt but effective metaphor for the reality of the city to those it actively tries to repel, like Farrah. Here however, the sun shines brightly on downtown. In a full-page spread, it radiates around Farrah who’s got a renewed confidence and wants to treat Kaydon to lunch. With the issue’s methodical return to the cold blues as it goes on, this highlights how series colorist K. Michael Russell is highly capable of switching gears to match the tone, a point strengthened later in how it presents Farrah in a crowd as the only person in color over grayscale.
The lunch invites age to be the spotlighted theme. It’s been a key idea the series has meditated on so far, but here it creates a sharp contrast between Kaydon and Farrah, in terms of age difference and how they discern L.A. Kaydon’s still the girl who dreams of making it big, Farrah’s been that girl only to be kicked to the curb upon request, a point furthered when she encounters a former male cast mate from Space Farers, which brings the disparity between the sexes back into the conversation. It’s this sequence that really shows Djibril Morissette-Phan is the perfect fit for this book through two particular pieces of panelling. The first is the introduction to this cast mate, the page prior consists of four panels which either frame Farrah in a wide shot, part of a crowd or even leave out of it. The page that follows consists of 12 panels, eleven of them dedicated to the co-star, his accolades, adoring fans and the media attention. Farrah may be the protagonist of Glitterbomb, but there isn’t a statement more damning about the inherent and implicit sexism and ageism that persists in Hollywood than the subtext the art conveys. This page also allows Marshall Dillon to letter the page so the words accompany the panels involving the co-star, drawing the reader’s attention, putting all eyes on him.
The second of these scenes comes later and reincorporates the body horror aspect, to detail it would be spoiling the issue, but the page consists of five panels, four of equal size with the final panel expanded to emphasize the narrative beat. It’s also here where Farrah’s façade slips, up until this point she wears thick sunglasses, obscuring her eyes, and thus a large component of facial expression. While Jim Zub’s script is sharp enough that her biting bitterness rings true in an undertone that her more upbeat overtone does its best to cover, when the mask finally slips, it’s the book’s admission that the rage that’s been burning brightly within Farrah since the inciting incident of this story isn’t something recently ignited; it’s been there for 25 years and all the creature has done is stoke the flames.
Holly Raychelle Hughes’ essays close out each issue and prove how accurate Glitterbomb is. They recollect the themes seeded in the pages of the comic into cautionary tales about Hollywood and the people. Here she succinctly sums up the thesis of the issue - that the ones who hang others out to dry do it instinctively and show no remorse about doing so, even after years of it having the opportunity to plague on their consciences because they’ll happily do it again.
I don’t believe these essays shouldn’t be defined as back matter, because that implies they’re only for the most dedicated of readers, nor do I consider it correct to label them as supplementary material because for the same reason. Instead they should be treated as required reading because not only are they poignant, but they ground the horror. The body horror might be the hook, but the most resonant idea is that the industry itself is a living nightmare for many. Without these essays, Zub, Hughes, Morissette-Phan, Marshall and Dillon wouldn’t be able to reinforce that there’s a truth to this book, and that’s the scariest thing of all.