Story by Arash Amel
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Illustrated by Antonio Fuso
Colors by Adam Guzowski
Published by Archaia/BOOM! Studio
Reading Butterfly #1 led me to realize I sometimes don’t give comics the time they deserve. I read it once and I took it in. I read it a second time and I understood the depth to it. Now I really don’t know if that’s down to my attempt to juggle time when it comes to family, work and hobbies. If the comic put in visual and verbal cues that weren’t supposed to be apparent on first reading, should I have to read a comic twice to get the most from it? Should I be spending more time on it on the first reading?
Butterfly is a comic based around the theme of espionage and infiltration, or so it was on first reading. At one time, to her Father, she was known as Becky. Her colleagues used Rebecca. Now it is Butterfly to her handlers, or maybe I should be using the past tense with that one too.
The majority of the comic is set in a 2 x 3 panel format. A format which enables Antonto Fuso’s visual direction to introduce Butterfly’s set of skills more than ably. Staccato sentences from Marguerite Bennett used as impeccable punctuation to those panels. Fuso’s work is a glory to the mathematical eye, the illusion of curvature created by place of straight lines. A close inspection of the page and you see almost ventriloquist dummy style faces in crowd scenes draw back from the page and the magic happens.
As expected in many espionage thrillers nowadays, globe-trotting is the norm. Butterfly’s more than capable undercover skills are compromised through no fault of her own. Losing contact with both her Handler and her Quartermaster, she is set on the path of the “Nightingale”. Whether coincidentally or not her path leads her southerly through Europe on the same trajectory as a Nightingales migration, Sweden. Germany, France, where an unexpected meeting occurs.
This meeting allows a transition in style and a wonderful ‘memento’ style back-treading of narrative which allows context of motives and history to be conveyed in a very powerful way.
Maybe it was actually this backward narrative of story that made me go back to retread the first pages of the comic. That caused my second read-through to make me think the story may actually about absence and loss, but actually allowed me to enjoy echoes and beats in the story telling and panels that should be noticed for yourself.
This Butterfly escaped from its chrysalis early and has taken flight.