If there's one thing you should take away from Phonogram: The Singles Club #1 (and really, that's an idiotic conceit, but whatever, bear with my idiocy!), it is that this first issue makes the first Phonogram mini-series look like a piece of festering horse dung.
And since I quite liked the first Phonogram mini-series, that should tell you a little something about the high level of quality achieved by this comic book.
Really, with this issue, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie have mastered the form that they began with in the first Phonogram series. The improvement is marked - not so much the art, as McKelvie's work was stellar right from the get-go (he has a bit of a Hernandez Brothers vibe to him - simple, yet extremely evocative - the way he handles expressions and body language is out of this world - and the way he expresses how the character used magic? Subtle and awesome), and while Gillen was certainly good as well, here he takes the book to a whole other level.
This is such an amazingly polished work.
It's done in the "Fell" style of comic, where you get a 16 page comic rather than 22, but unlike Fell or Casanova, there are also two back-ups (or "B-Sides" as they call it).
It appears that the idea is that we will meet a different phonomancer (music magician) each issue. In this issue, we meet Penny (almost literally, as Penny does some fourth wall crashing, as she talks directly to the reader) and her best friend Laura. In the space of 16 pages of them going to a club (with cute rules), we learn sooo much about Penny and her personality that you'd be astonished that the comic book was only 16 pages.
There are a lot of music references, but Gillen masterfully handles it so you do not have to understand any of them, really - it's not the songs that matter, it's how the characters RELATE to the songs.
Fully formed characters and great, expressive artwork in a "done in one" story - this is like most comic lovers' dream come true!
Here are the first two pages...
The backups are quite solid, too. Both are written by Gillen.
The first, by Laurenn McCubbin, is a beautiful short story about the role of women in emo music. The point being made is a strong one, and the execution is solid.
The second is a cute really short story by Marc Ellerby about, well, let's just say the power of love. Heh.
This is not even mentioning the essay by Gillen we get or the interesting annotations (for those who WANT to know about the music mentioned).
For $3.50, this is one hell of a package - and it's all in COLOR, EVEN!
Wow, what a great comic book.