Posted - October 16, 2015
Candice Crow is a great read if you're going through a particularly tough time in your life. I'm sure the psychologists have a term for explaining the curious salve of searching out other people who are having a harder time of it than you, so that you can feel better about your situation. Maybe it's the knowledge that you are not going at it alone. Whatever it is, bottom line, it helps. Usually, when I feel like this, I turn to actual stories of real people. Candice Crow is the first time I've encountered a comicbook that can work the same way as a real story. That's pretty special.
We begin with, well, Candice Crow.
Single, unattached, a working student, eldest of two children, lead vocal of an amateur rock band. Consider this brief description our tabula rasa. I will now attempt to write on this 'blank slate' and the ink is blood and the words tell of darkness. Not fantasy darkness, a darkness inspired by real life, a darkness we are all familiar with. This is the main strength of Candice Crow. it successfully creates empathy between us and the main character. If you're going through a hard time that empathy is heightened.
So now, back to the 'tabula rasa' and the dark lines I'm talking about . . .
First: Drunkard father.
I was debating whether to write 'drunkard father' or 'alcoholic father', but 'alcoholic father' implies that the father is somehow a victim of alcoholism rather than a substance abuser, a 'drunkard father'. This guy is no victim, no one put a gun to his head and told him to drink endless amounts of alcohol. He is a drunk. I have also labeled this as 'First' because from this decision to drown himself in alcohol other forms of darkness have come. Witness . . .
Second: Mother is a suicide.
Candice's mother hangs herself shortly after reading a mysterious letter which is never explained. The fact that the mother was a regular punching bag for the dad could not have helped.
Third: Candice is the breadwinner
Okay. I'm exaggerating. Maybe the Dad still manages to provide a roof and food on the table in between beer binges. Still, Candice describes regular runs to the local police station to bail out her Dad because of disorderly conduct.
Fourth: Real concerns for a younger sister.
Candice reveals that with her mother's death, she's become her Dad's new punching bag. It gets worse. She has a younger sister who's increasingly in danger of being used as a third punching bag.
Fifth: I have a dream.
For Candice, the dream is rather cliche: Form a band and land a record deal. It's corny, I'll admit, but as a symbol it works. A symbol of anybody's dream, the one thing that keeps us going through tough times, The band is Candice's one thing. It is a good thing, of course, but just like any dream, when it is being pursued it brings its own pressures.
So drunk father, mother dead by suicide, money troubles, sister in danger of getting domestically abused, longshot dream. Just words on a page but this comic layers it carefully and presents it effectively so that we begin to strongly empathize with Candice. There are times when I got worried about the pacing - that it was slowing down too much - but the pacing was okay, just a bit slow, but not disastrous. The art really helped this book. Delicate linework. Some panel layouts were a bit sparse though.
Oh yes, there is one other problem. This:
Candice Crow is afflicted with a wasting disease that threatens to zombify her. Actually, she doesn't know what it will do. She doesn't dare find out. Can't blame her. In order to reverse this process Candice dons a rather fetching leather (rubber?) suit.
So what the heck is this about?
I don't know! Hahahahaha. The story doesn't take it up. What is it? How did Candice acquire this 'situation'? The story doesn't go into it. This omission is so absurd that I don't mind it at all. It's so ridiculous that it becomes acceptable, specially because Candice's 'real life' domestic adventures are so well presented.
But. But. Instant decay + a dominatrix suit isn't the end of it. There's also this.
So there is something 'super-heroic' in these pages. I'm trying to figure this thing out. As in, what is it? Candice's situation where she undergoes some sort of decay points to some kind of necro or death-based power - no basis for that really, maybe I've just been playing to much mono-black in MTG. One thing is evident though, the power seems to be tied to her emotions and it seems to bring out feelings of terror from those it affects. Candice doesn't use this often but when she does it's a nice break from the reality-based storytelling.
Another component of the Candice Crow comic is a vengeance subplot.
Because life is unfair to everybody but totally unfair to Candice, she also loses her best friend to drug overdose.
A cause of death that turns out to be false. Claire, the best friend, was murdered but only Candice and a lone police Detective is out pursuing the case. The part I like best in this subplot is what Detective Alvarez orders for breakfast.
Now I'm hungry.
Between Candice's crushing personal situation, her strange 'affliction' and the need to avenge Claire's death the tale of Candice Crow is weaved.
Every storm eventually ends and so it is with Candice Crow as the closing events of her tale has her band finally winning their big break - together with a move to LA. This good thing goes in tandem with another good thing. This:
Candice beats the crap out of her Dad. And I heartily agree. I want to go on record that if I become an abusive drunk I want my family to literally beat the crap out of me. I'll be protesting loudly when the time comes but don't be fooled. Go ahead and beat me up please. The ending feels hurried, feels too convenient. Nonetheless, the tale has been told and it's not a bad one.