Girls Vol. 3: Survival (Image Comics)

girls3headerAn already intense drama explodes the tensions into the stratosphere in its most intense volume yet.

 

 

 

152 pgs. FC; $14.99

(W: Joshua Luna; A: Jonathan Luna)

 

For the third volume in a four-part series, there's always a fear that the book will tread water, that not much of anything will happen as the story is padded out in anticipation of the big finale. I'm happy to report that this is most definitely not the case with the Luna Brothers' survival horror epic Girls, whose third volume, Survival, is the most intense chapter yet.

 

The cover to Girls Vol. 3 by Jonathan Luna. Click thumbnail for a larger image.It seemed the stakes couldn't get much higher for the book's third act, with the good people of Pennystown trapped by a huge transparent sphere that holds them as prey for a tribe of ravenous naked women every bit as terrifying as any zombie ever to hobble and grunt its way across the countryside. With even the military outside of the sphere at a loss as to how to bust them out, the enormity of the situation is finally starting to sink in. Exhaustion has set in, and with food and fuel supplies running low, tensions are running high. Since the girls only attack the town's women, up until this point it had seemed that all hope rested with the men. But after last volume's stunning revelation that the men can be seduced into creating more girls, neither gender feels they can trust the other. The women aren't safe and the men can't be trusted, and beleaguered town sheriff Wes is barely holding the tenuous peace together when one of the men goes missing, a new batch of girls appears, and everything blows apart.

 

The tense survival drama is what kept the series chugging through its first two volumes, but in Survival the book's true nature comes to life. Girls isn't just about survival but also gender politics, and when your very chromosomes define you as a victim or a threat, the results are explosive. Think Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra's phenomenal Y: The Last Man mixed with Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead, with men and women at each other's throats as they struggle to simply survive through as many nights as it takes until help arrives.

 

The story structure is packed with huge revelations at every turn, making it hard to even mention the series without spoiling some great surprises. This volume shines in that it not only amps up the drama but also solidifies the cast, much of which previously seemed like a mass of random talking heads and stereotypes. Now that they've developed into well-rounded individuals, we get to see how they react to the horrific circumstances they're presented and how it has changed them, creating intense, character-driven conflicts that truly drive the series forward. Even as the book enters its final chapter, revelations still abound, and the story's final destination is anybody's guess. I'm sure that's just the way the Lunas want it. | Jason Green

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