Serenity Rose Vol. 1: Working Through the Negativity

By Aaron Alexovitch
144 pages, black and white
Published by Slave Labor Graphics

Everyone’s had those sort of days. You’re lying down on the couch, you’re tired enough that you can’t get up, but not so tired that you can actually fall asleep. In my case, I found myself fumbling around on the floor for that pile of review books that I’d absent-mindedly set down earlier in the day, and finally my fingers landed on a book: Serenity Rose Vol. 1: Working Through the Negativity. And you know? It was clearly meant to be. Like magic, or something.

Serenity Rose is a witch—one of 53 in the entire world, to be precise. Living in Crestfallen, the self-proclaimed “Spookiest Li’l Town in America” is enough to set her teeth on edge. The townspeople want to use Serenity Rose’s name to further their own lives, tourists come in to gawk at her, vampires attack her, and thrash-metal witches on tour… well, the less said about that, the better. Really, if Serenity just happened to blow up the entire town, would anyone really blame her? (Not that she has. Yet.)

Being trapped on the couch with Serenity Rose was really, in so many ways, the best possible way for me to read the book. Collecting the first five issues of the comic, Serenity Rose‘s first chapter felt a little scattered to me, trying to introduce too many characters all at once and just meandering from one set piece to the next. I was stuck on the couch, though, so I kept reading… and I’m glad I did. Aaron Alexovitch is one of those people who really grows as a creator from one page to the next; as Serenity Rose continued, a strong level of cohesiveness began to emerge, pulling everything together and providing a tighter narrative without losing the ability to take detours off the main story from time to time. Serenity Rose herself is in many ways the best thing about the comic; forget the realistic “what if there were supernatural creatures and people out there?” world created for the book, or madcap expeditions into convenience stores and comics-within-comics, it’s the title character that makes Serenity Rose so good. She’s indecisive, she’s shy, she shuns all attempts to be thrust into the spotlight, and underneath all those barriers, she’s a genuinely good person. It would have been easy to make Serenity the typical “sarcastic teen”, but that’s not the case at all here. She’s 22 years old, she’s a little withdrawn from the world, but for characters who get to know her she’s someone great to be around. Her slow blossoming as a character is the real journey of Serenity Rose Vol. 1, as she learns to understand herself and her place in the world, and she is the book’s strength.

I love the art in Serenity Rose, and just like the writing it gets continually stronger from one chapter to the next. It looks to be drawn primarily (if not entirely) in pencil, forgoing the usual ink lines to give Serenity Rose a softer, more gentle feel. Those who wrongly wrote off Serenity Rose as “another goth book” probably won’t see that coming at all, but really it sums up Serenity Rose in a nutshell. This isn’t a harsh, “all people stink” sort of book, and as such there aren’t rigid lines drawn here, both in terms of writing as well as in the art. Serenity herself has a young, innocent sort of look to her, one that really helps you warm to her and let you begin to understand that this is a deeply vulnerable character. The rest of the art is equally entertaining; the supporting cast is fun to look at, and the page layouts are never standard, always formed uniquely to best suit the story. It’s an organic look that appears to have formed itself simultaneously, and it’s one that got better and better with each new page.

When reviewing books it’s easy to put a book down after a couple of pages if it isn’t working for you, but it’s important to always give a book a fair chance. In the case of Serenity Rose Vol. 1, I’m nothing short of delighted to have kept reading. It’s not the opening chapter was bad by any stretch of the imagination, but rather that it progressed from something that was in the “ok” category, to a book that I couldn’t put down and desperately want to read more from. More, please, and quickly.

Purchase Links:

1 comment to Serenity Rose Vol. 1: Working Through the Negativity

  • Little Doll

    I love serenity rose, from the first time that I saw, (Sun as a crush, but no love jeje )….
    I love comic and in my long quest of one Guen I see this, I charm simple mind that ….. a kiss to the writers.

    -_-_-_–LiTTle Doll–_-_-_-