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posted July 24, 2008


Creators: Mark Sable, Robbi Rodriguez
Publishing Information: Image Comics, softcover, 160 pages, 2008, $14.99
Ordering Numbers: 9781582408699 (ISBN13)

This strange little book slipped out from Image Comics earlier this year, and stands as one of the string of "Shadow Minx" books out there, by which I mean books that might appeal to the same general readership that DC Comics' line aimed at female readers is trying to reach, only just not from that publisher. This may be a questionable claim, because the work deals in over-the-top grotesques at the same time it backs away from the squishier parts of those same pre-occupations. Ileana and James are attending one of the Harvards of the South (which I guess could make it writer Mark Sable's own Duke, or Suwanee, or Washington and Lee, or most likely a generalized amalgamation of all such schools) and set out on a odyssey concerning the school's greek system and their participation within it and without it that ends with their changing the entire enterprise as much if not more than it changes them.

If that sounds like movie trailer speech, that may be because Hazed seems like an illustrated movie script more than it does a graphic novel, both in how it's presented (as a successor to Mean Girls and Heathers) and how it careens from plot point to plot point without a firm sense of structure and character progression. It has a strange energy that despite competent work from both writer and artist moment to moment starts to undermine the overall narrative. It's exhausting for both the fact that it never seems to stop and it always seem overtly manipulative. While many graphic novels from from point A to point B to point C with relative simplicity, with Hazed you rush past them and onto to the next event as Sable and Rodriguez shout out the moments you're rushing past. I honestly lost my place a few times returning to the book, which is extremely difficult to do with visual material. Further, I'm not sure that the tone ever settles into something that can handle both in some ways celebrating the gleeful sickness of the physical body issues and general jerkiness of many of the story's main actors while also criticizing it. The satire comes off as fairly toothless even when everything is stacked in its favor, and I'm not sure there's a fresh insight into these issues to be found within its pages.