Written by Frederic L’Homme
Art by Arnaud Boudoiron
Yes, this is a Marvel Comic. No, this is not about the X-Man. Yes, there are giant robots (kinda). Yes, there are boobs.
In the future, humanity will utilize bio-mechanical suits called Husks to engulf and replace the human body. Sarah – a junkie, a child prodigy and a cop – is part of a unit that pilots Husks for law enforcement. An incident at Arnold, the corporation that creates the Husks, leads the BMRI police force on a search for a new “brain hacker.” Sarah’s questioning of Arnold’s true motivations are overshadowed by her ever-growing addiction to her Husk and her distain for her own body and life.
Husk is a collaboration between Marvel and French comic publisher Soleil, in that Marvel is importing it (and a few other titles already made by Soleil) to the States. The book is listed as a “Marvel Limited Series” and does not take place in any Marvel universe, so don’t expect any Siege or Second Coming discussions in the background.
This book tries to be very cerebral, and I think it pulls it off. It explores addiction with Sarah’s drug usage, including the Husks she uses to escape from herself and feel more simple and primitive feelings. The book also deals with some “ghost in the machine” concepts by showing Sarah discard the use of her natural body and higher brain functions (machine) to satisfy her base emotions and instincts (ghost) through the Husk. There’s also a pervasion of technology and privacy shown here too. The characters are mostly vehicles to explore these concepts, but they do the job and manage to still hold an interested connection from the reader (except maybe the pig which is just odd).
The biomecha Husk concept is intriguing, how they are cultivated into being and manipulated by a pilot inside and a co-pilot off site. The extent of their organic nature and how they really work is just touched upon in this book, adding a bit of mystery I’m looking forward to in the next issues.
Beware to plan some time though. This is a long issue compared to your average comic book. It is 48 pages and really wordy. Very dense words, scattered with philosophical and techno rambling. It really tries to earn that $5.99 price tag with content, which I’m not sure it fully does.
Anyone familiar with Japanese anime film director Mamoru Oshii will instantly see familiar territory. At first glance, Husk seems like a mix-mash of Ghost in the Shell (the philosophical exploration of the mind, body and technology) and Patlabor (the pervasive use of mecha and corporation in society). And then there’s the dense dialog. If you’ve seen any of Oshii’s works, you may be interested in Husk for it similarities, or you may not because you have basically seen this story already.
Still, it’s only issue one of three. There are still two books for L’Homme to spin this into something truly unique. If he doesn’t, it’s still intriguing and entertaining. Maybe not $5.99 entertaining, but it’ll all likely be trade paperback entertaining.
The designs in this book are all well done. Everything is well detailed and clean. Boudoiron definitely took his time to do this.
The Husk designs are not your usual mecha designs, with a fairly plain base skin and blank white head. These biomecha can be outfitted for whatever tasks they need, including (for some reason) simple yet oversized street clothes for a strike mission. Seeing semi-giant robots (they’re only 2-3 times taller than a person) wear clothes is odd, but it works given their biological nature. Their organic look and damaged appearances. They’re essentially small yet muscular, faceless Evangelions (for those familiar with Neon Genesis Evangelion). They’re still unique enough visually to stand apart and look neat.
The characters are all realistic, with excellent detail to bone structure and shading. Sarah is drawn really tiny and young. She’s seemingly of legal age but looks twelve, which definitely makes sense of her hatred of her own body.
My only problem with the art is the dialog boxes design choice. Following all the dialog can be disorientating to those of us used to rectangle boxes solely used for narration and inner monolog. Here, they all pretty much look the same, with inner monolog differentiated with simply an inner pinkish fill. With so many boxes with several lines of dialog (several being said by characters off panel) scattered on the pages, it can be tough to follow.
Oh, and boobs. Remember that “Mature Content” warning? Yeah, that’s no joke.
Husk is an intriguing title, unique from the standard superhero fare Marvel puts out. The futuristic mecha usage and conceptual exploration make this a book worth checking out, and the art is nice to look at while grinding through the text. Still, $5.99 is costly for any single issue, so maybe wait for the whole thing in trade.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10