[23 April 2008]
The back cover compares this book to Rush Hour and Lethal Weapon. This is a comparison the powers that be should not make. They sell their book too short.
Yes, Cover Girl is a buddy movie in graphic novel form, so that comparison bears fruit. But its story is better than any Rush Hour film and about half of the Lethal Weapon franchise.
Alex Martin is an out-of-work actor who saves a woman from a burning car. This event changes his life in two ways. One, his act of heroism is caught on tape, making him Hollywood’s hottest property. And two, the man from whom the woman was running also sees him on the news and wants to kill him, thinking he might have been told something he really shouldn’t know.
Alex becoming the flavor of the month has made him the star of an eagerly anticipated summer blockbuster. And the death threats have made the studio get him a bodyguard, an ex-cop by the name of Rachel Dodd, who keeps an eye on him while pretending to be his girlfriend to the press. Together, they get embroiled in a deep conspiracy where the fate of the world is at stake.
The story touches on all the familiar tropes of the buddy movie—the bickering partners who grow to respect each other, the gruff police captain, the death of a partner, the heroes rushing in alone instead of waiting for help, etc. But it also works as a parody of the genre and Hollywood as a whole.
Alex molding into a star focuses on the physical (wardrobe and manicures) rather than acting talent (“Frankly,” one character says, “it’s the least important thing”). The entertainment news shows are shallow and superficial. Producers are more concerned with the bottom line than the human beings behind the numbers.
The wit of these observations is only one example of the way humor plays a part in the series. There is a constant level of “witty banter” throughout, which is typical in this type of story, with brilliant, Python-esque gags mixed in (especially the Tommy/Gary Sikes bits, which made me laugh out loud.).
But there is also a lot of action. The plot is pretty much by the numbers, just like every buddy film. But it is fast paced and exciting. Even a car chase, something that is nigh impossible to pull off in a graphic novel, is portrayed in Cover Girl in a pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat fashion. You can almost hear a soundtrack playing in the background as you read it.
Cover Girl is not on the scale of Watchmen. It won’t make Time’s Top 100 Graphic Novel list, it won’t be taught in schools (wait, maybe it will ), but it is a solidly entertaining read that will provide a lot of laughs along the way. Buy it now so you’re prepared for the inevitable sequel!
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/cover-girl/