Derek Kirk Kim has a great ear for finding what is most interesting about everyday humanity, as you can tell if you read his amazing short comic stories (available to read for FREE on his website here), and that is by far the most appealing aspect of the latest release from DC’s Minx line, Good As Lily, which was written by Kim with artwork by Jesse Hamm.
The concept behind the comic is that 18-year-old Grace Kwon is suddenly visited by three versions of herself. Herself as a six-year-old, herself as a 29-year-old and herself as a 70-year-old. Unbeknown to Grace, her “mission” is to solve the biggest problem each of her other selves has, while, meanwhile, they each help her a bit with her life, as well (in unexpected ways).
Hamm’s artwork on the whole is quite good, but there are a few times when his style seems a bit too uneven. His take on Grace’s friend, Rona, in particular, seems way jarring – she looks like she is being drawn in a wholly different style than the other characters. However, on the four main characters (The Graces), Hamm absolutely nails it, and that is where the book hangs, so that’s certainly good to see.
As I mentioned in the beginning, Kim’s best moments are when he is giving us interesting glimpses into normal human interaction, which is why it is great to see him pretty much just gloss over the science-fiction aspect of the whole “three other selves” thing, and just look at it as a tool for character interaction.
Probably the biggest weakness, then, is when Kim goes away from realistic interaction and into silly slapstick, like Grace trying to hide her three other selves from her parents. It just comes off as silly (and makes her parents look kind of, well, moronic).
I was a bit disappointed in the dearth of development that Kim gives to Grace’s nemesis, Stephanie. Kim sets up an interesting scenario where Stephanie is a popular girl who has always been mean to Grace, but obviously, Stephanie has some problems of her own, too (including a mother who degrades her). However, rather than exploring this avenue, Kim resolves their relationship with basically, well, no resolution. It is just magically resolved. Quite strange.
Probably my biggest disappointment, though, is the title of the book. “Good As Lily” describes how Grace feels that she is always in the shadow of her older sister, Lily, who died when Grace was just a young girl. You’d think that if the book is TITLED “Good As Lily,” then that would be a fairly major plot point, right?
Well, you’d be wrong. It’s a plot point, and it actually delivers probably the most powerful scene in the whole comic, where Kim shows a parent struggling to find the words to comfort her daughter, and finding herself grasping at old stand-bys, like threatening to punish the girl if she does not feel better. It’s a brilliant scene. However, the whole “Good As Lily” plot takes up quite literally FIVE pages out of the 148 pages of the book! How weird is THAT?
When all is said and done, though, Good As Lily is a fun tale filled with enough charm and interesting human interaction to make the read worthwhile.
Here is an excerpt from the book, courtesy of New York magazine.