Crush #1

Written by Jason Hall
Art by Sean Murphy
32 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

There’s something special about the passage from teenager to adult. It’s more in the mind of the teenager that’s about to turn 18 (or however old adulthood is in one’s particular country), that somehow they’re going to wake up and everything has changed. The reality of the situation, of course, is that it rarely does. You wake up and still have to go to school, or take out the garbage, or whatever thing it was you’re dreading. That’s part of the fun of Jason Hall and Sean Murphy’s Crush; the idea that when you turn 18, something special will happen. If you want it to, that’s another story entirely…

It’s Liz’s birthday, and her family didn’t even notice. Not that it’s much of a surprise; with a verbally abusive father and an alcoholic mother, Liz is probably happier when she’s ignored than when they actually take notice of her. When Liz’s best friend Jen buys her an old book of spells, though, it unleashes a force that destroys Liz’s enemies… but is it connected to the picture she found in the attic of who might be Liz’s real mother, down to matching birthmark? And just what is that being she keeps having dreams about?

It’s funny, because if you boil Crush down to its absolute basics it’s easy to write it off. Oppressed and misunderstood girl gets book of black magic, accidentally strikes down people she hated, then discovers her own true powers inside. What sets Crush‘s writing apart, though, is how Hall handles these events. In Hall’s hands, Liz is a fun character that you’re very much cheering on; you want her to succeed against the obstacles stacked against her, never mind the slightly cheesier aspects of the story. (Who buys a book of spells for someone else for their birthday? And upon receiving the book, are you really going to strip down in the attack and cast one of them as a joke?) In the end, Hall’s dialogue and general attitude are able to really brush away some deficiencies in the basic plot and keep the reader’s interest.

I think this is the first time I’ve seen Murphy’s art, but I hope it’s definitely not the last. I love the thick ink lines that he uses to draw Liz’s hair, and the dark eyes that she possesses. It’s funny, because Liz’s outfit in other people’s hands would be a real cliché, but just like how Hall manages to make the situations of Crush #1 believable, Murphy does the same in art with Liz’s fishnet top looking perfectly normal. What I liked the most, though, was how Murphy draws Liz in an appropriately gawky state. She may be an adult according to the calendar, but she still carries herself like a kid, and it’s that lack of confidence that really shines through in the poses and expressions that Murphy draws for her. Last but not least, while it’s a minor thing, I love the fact that Liz’s birthmark looks like it could actually be one, not a strange and ornate symbol like most people would have drawn. This is much more realistic, and it’s just a nice touch in an otherwise already visually strong book.

It’s funny, because if you’d described Crush #1 to me before I read the book, I’d have assumed the worst. It’s a real credit to Hall and Murphy that they were able to make these ideas really work. It’s a fun little jaunt, and with an appropriate cliffhanger for the second issue. Dark Horse’s “Rocket Comics” line up until this point seemed to be full of misses rather than hits, but I think that Crush is the first title in the line that is worth coming back for a second issue. Now that all the exposition is out of the way, hopefully Hall and Murphy will just keep having fun putting Crush together, because it certainly came across to the reader in the first issue.

Comments are closed.