Some time ago I put down some money on a Kickstarter project, and at the end of last week I saw the fruits of that donation; the hard cover copy of Jimmy Palmiotti‘s QUEEN CRAB hardcover graphic novel arrived. I’m not quite sure when or where anyone else can pick it up [EDIT: You can buy it now, it seems, at your local comic shop], but I figured I’d let people know my thoughts if you do see a copy. As a heads up, as usual, my review contains SPOILERS.
On Page 1 we immediately meet our protagonist, Ginger, and her sister Nikki. Ginger’s life is just on the “suck” side of Average. She lives in a dirt-poor coastal town near Brooklyn, her mom’s an alcoholic, her (female) boss sexually harasses her to the 11th degree, and she has to explain to her best friend and fuck buddy Vincent that they have to put the kabosh on their fuckery because her wedding is in a few days (but Vincent already knew that and they have a quickie on his boat afterwards).
On their wedding night Ginger’s now-husband Murry gets a call about the woman he’d been sleeping with on the side (Ginger knew about the affair but didn’t say anything because of her and Vincent). She was in a car accident and Murry rushes to the hospital. The resulting funeral post-pones their honeymoon, but soon enough Ginger and Murry are on a big cruise liner. What seems to be a pleasant enough vacation for Ginger quickly turns sideways when Murry tosses her off the ship. Since Ginger doesn’t know how to swim she sinks into the abyss, where she sees a strange light before passing out.
A little while later Ginger wakes on a beach, back in Brooklyn. A cop points out that she is topless. When he then points out that Ginger’s arms from the shoulders down have transformed into giant crab claws the overwhelmed woman passes out. She wakes up on the second floor of a nearby boardwalk freak show, where she is tended to while she gets a handle on her situation and awaits for Nikki to pick her up.
Back at the house Ginger adjusts to her existence with crab claws for arms/hands, trying to figure out what has happened to her (it doesn’t take her long to figure out the reason for Murry’s betrayal). The news reveals that there has been a search for Ginger’s body, and that the cruise liner will be returning to port soon. When it does Ginger sneaks on board and confronts Murry alone in their old cabin. Our heroine is understandably mad and Murry is understandably confused. He doesn’t say anything to make the situation better. Ultimately, what matters is that Ginger has a pair of giant rock-hard crab claws, and her husband has a soft squishy neck. After decapitating the attempted murderer Ginger throws herself off the bow of the ship.
Sometime later Nikki and Vincent have tracked Ginger to Florida where she’s been in hiding, making money as part of an underwater show. Everyone assures each other that they are all okay and will continue to be so. Neither of the visitors can stay for long, but that evening Ginger takes Vincent out to the ocean and reveals some of her discovered powers; she can stay underwater for inhumanly long periods of time, she has glowy-eyed night vision, and she can command fish to do her bidding. Vincent is only nominally weirded out by this, and the two go back to Ginger’s place for a carefully choreographed dance under the sheets.
After Vincent and Nikki leave Ginger goes back out to the sea and starts to swim, calling out once more for an explanation of what she is and why she was chosen. As the book comes to its conclusion she encounters a similar light as the one that first greeted her after being thrown off the cruise liner.
THE FINAL VERDICT: Although some politically-incorrect language and Artiz Eigeren’s realistic-over-sexualized art may lose some, this is an excellent and recommended tale of a transformed woman adjusting to what has happened to her, which doesn’t shy away from the human situation.
Let me first say, I like Mr. Eiguren’s art, but it isn’t sexy on a level of J. Scott Campbell or Frank Cho (or whoever illustrated the cover). But that’s okay – the story is dark and gritty and real, and that is reflected in Mr. Eiguren’s art style. And if all you’re interested in is nudity he draws a nice set of breasts…and quite often.
Mr. Palmiotti tries to capture the language that two sisters from Brooklyn might share with each other, which has a few phrases plenty of PSA’s have tried to phase out. But its natural for the characters and there isn’t enough usage to detract from the story.
And the story is good. It feels like an origin story to an unproduced comic series, but there is an internally resolving tale to be told so I wasn’t disappointed by how it wrapped up. Ginger is a realistic protagonist who reacts to most situations like I would expect a real person to, and it was refreshing. Her incidental narration helps us get a welcomed look inside her thoughts and experience, adding a great layer to the events of the book.
While there is no transformation process shown, there’s no shortage of images containing Ginger and the transition between her shoulders and her crab arms. Fans of this form will have plenty to look at, and if you don’t like Mr. Eiguren’s style there are a few pin-ups in the back of the book by different artists which will probably fit your fancy.
Overall I enjoyed QUEEN CRAB. The art may be too gritty for some, and I think it would have benefited from a stronger self-contained conflict, but Ginger’s character has enough of an arch to justify the book as a stand-alone piece. If you do happen to see the book available for sale somewhere, at a reasonable price, I recommend picking it up. And I would gladly read more of Queen Crab’s story.