Chastity Vol. 2 #1
Writer: Leah Williams
Artists: Daniel Maine and Bryan Valenza
I often feel that ’90s comics get an unnecessarily bad rap. There were plenty of amazing series published during that time, ones that still hold up today. On the other hand, you have the “Bad Girl” genre, in which scantily clad femme fatales murder their way to… something. Often with a mystical bent, the most supernatural thing about book likes Witchblade and Lady Death were their interpretations of human anatomy. Indie publisher Chaos! Comics made their whole brand out of Bad Girls. Thankfully, the industry moved on from that trend.
But now, rising from the grave is a new Chastity series. A revival of the Chaos! Comic of the same name, it brings the titular half-vampire into the 21st century. Or at least tries to. Actually getting a woman to write the book seems to have suppressed the worst qualities of the Bad Girl archetype. Unfortunately, I think the genre has way too much baggage to ever be properly modernized.
Williams thankfully brings a real playfulness to the book. Chastity butchers vampires in front of subway commuters who couldn’t care less. Having her run around New York in an absurd outfit and wielding vampire powers without actually getting anyone to care makes for good comedy. Chastity being an extraordinary individual in a city that just can’t be bothered is by far the strongest element of the book.
More mixed is the art. Daniel Maine draws something for Chastity that at least doesn’t look like the fetish gear of her predecessor. Unfortunately, it’s still rooted there, with mesh-lined cutaways and a sizable midriff. It’s a design that only really works because what came before it was essentially a leather bikini. At the best of times.
Unfortunately, the art as a whole feels stiff and inconsistent. A few panels have some well-done faces, where others completely fall flat. Haphazard supernatural elements deflate any potentially tense or exciting moments. That adds to the book’s comedic side but makes it harder to accept as a serious narrative. Largely forgettable composition and framing sinks the rest.
Maine’s art would look better if it weren’t for Valenza’s poor colorwork. Already flat backgrounds look like even less believable with his colorwork. He handles the textures really well though, at least for anything that isn’t the background. The book looks unusually bright for a vampire narrative. I don’t know whether that’s because of the pencils or colors but it takes a lot away from the book as a whole.
It’s a valiant effort to try and rehabilitate one of comics most infamous genres. Unfortunately, Chastity doesn’t succeed all that much. It definitely makes a decent effort. its attempts to present a half-vampire anti-hero go-go dancer in a positive, unexploited light almost hit the mark. I think it also works a bit better than a comedy-driven deconstruction might have but so far the burden of the Bad Girl genre has proven too much for Chastity to bear.
Chastity Vol. 2 #1
The 90s most embarassing trend is now slightly more palatable for the 10s. Unfortunately it's still not very fun to read.