Written by Magdalene Visaggio, Art by Marley Zarcone, Colors by Irma Kniivila, Published by Black Crown (Imprint of IDW)
Magdalene Visaggio and Marley Zarcone's Marilyn Manor debuts as IDW’s newest quirk-filled comic book with colorful day-glow glaze. The comic mixes a cocktail equal parts '80s nostalgia, political push-back, and just a pinch of teenage melodrama.
Marilyn Manor focuses on the privileged party brat life of Marilyn, the outspoken daughter of the President. Visaggio crafts a John Hughesesque coming of age character, not terribly multi-dimensional, but with plenty of spunk and pizzazz. She's joined by best-friend Abe, named after the spirit who inhabits her, and nemesis, secret agent Matthew Witkin. Think 1980s Agent Smith.
Marilyn, tired of her silver spoon fed life, wants to bring the status quo to a new order, the only way she knows how: the biggest rager in White House history. The President and First Lady are off in Asia, so while the cat's away, Marilyn will play. Once a hidden opportunity presents itself, Marilyn goes full force, repercussions be dammed.
The party literally starts here, the first issue thrusting readers into a menagerie of rock stars and A-list celebs, courtesy of Abe's guerrilla-style camerawork, complete with bulky shoulder camera. This narrative choice allows the focus to be on Marilyn for most of the issue. This is a gamble by Visaggio; if you don't like Marilyn's naive, selfish gusto, then little happens later on to try to change that.
The proof of concept is here, even the inspiration behind Marilyn's namesake is a clever wink. It feels like we're about to go on a wild ride, filled with nigh impossible situations, and dramatic romantic entanglements. It's a shame that the primary players all seem a bit one-note. While Visaggio clearly draws on inspiration from 1980's film, fiction, and even some actual history, it's dangerous territory, as these characters seem perhaps a bit too familiar. The telegraphed story between Abe and Marilyn is hopefully a misdirect, it's too on the nose in 2019.
Where Visaggio occasionally slips, Marley Zarcone provides constant, vibrant art and panel narrative. The pluck and charm she infuses into Marilyn truly draws you in. Every wink and smile feels equally coquettish and dangerous. Irma Kniivila completes the look with bold hues, pastels, and day-glow glory. The color palate in Marilyn Manor wraps the book in a feisty, playful cocoon, instantly transporting readers to the decadent decade.
Marilyn Manor offers a lot of flash in its inaugural issue. Hopefully, the series slows down to provide the characters with agency beyond the "Me generation" mantra. Otherwise, the party could end early for this Material Girl.