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With Broken Lines, Thomas Pappalardo has created a charming world where Sharpie drawings and text narrate a rag-tag gang’s journey for the good and true, two values that manifest themselves mostly in threats and brawls against the many nefarious groups who wish harm upon Maggie, Cowboy, Spaceman and Vampire. The Illuminated Concern for Fastidious Bloodkeeping (vampire hunters), Firemen (demons from Hell), and the Space Agency (paramilitary agents) are each looking to destroy one or more members of the gang of four. Through these foils, the reader learns that vampires are being poached, arsonists are burning up the American landscape, and sophisticated aeronautical technology has been stolen. These storylines are introduced erratically, which has the cool effect of producing a universe vs. the heroes binary, and the uncool effect of rushing character development.

Pappalardo’s dialogue and narration lean towards caricature too often to sound genuine. In particular, the narrator addresses the audience in the patronizing voice of a pedant; I used to be all for reflexivity in literature, but it’s no longer cheeky, now it’s chumpy. While I enjoy the illustrations and all of Spaceman’s dialogue, I can’t say it’s worth the asking price. (Megan Polley)

Comic Zine, #2 & #3, Standard Design, PO Box 880, Northampton MA, 01061, USA, broken-lines.com, $5

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