Review: Betty Page #1
Writer: David Avallone
Art and Colours: Colton Worley
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Being mooted as The Secret Diary Of Betty Page probably won’t do this title any harm whatsoever. The clever marketing angle plays into the hands of an already Page hungry nation, where she’s lauded as the alternative face of an era; a underground heroine who is at once part Miss America and part Mistress of the Dark. She’s an individual with a shaded past that evokes curiosity at worst and utter devotion other times; a favourite image at tattoo conventions across the planet, one could do worse than to describe her as a latter day…well, there’s no-one quite like her, let’s be honest. So, with this series, the Page reputation is going to be angled and tuned in the spy genre direction, but what exactly has Avallone gotten us into with this latest incarnation of the Page comic franchise?
The series gets off to a start with Betty presented as a wannabe actress lower on Hollywood’s batting order. After an unfortunate run-in with some G-men, Betty is approached by a shady and secretive governmental agency, clearly in need of a deep cover opperative. And thus begins Betty’s sideline in investigative shenanigans. The art, unlike previous Page comics, encompasses a realistic, watercolour styling that works really well with the 50’s setting and dynamic sequences. Gone are the cartoonish, agape mouthed poses of the previous runs and pushed to the fore is an attempt at a more modern, empowered Betty. But is this simply paying lip service in the age of equality and diversity? The simple answer is ‘probably’. The are still leering males surrounding the pin-up, even when fully clothed, but it’s the cliched tying-up that still stands out as wholly uncomfortable, although a true trademark of sorts. This is all coupled with some modern writing that moves away from any notion of a hard-boiled detective tale. This story’s emphasis is on dynamics and fun, which we can all relate to.
The writing emerges as a strength in this issue. Betty’s quick quips are a relief from the tightly wound plot that threatens to take us deep into a much more dark and twisted 1950’s America, and an America that we snatch glimpses of in the final sequences. There are also more than a few references to Page’s actual past exploits, with Thelemic hexagram amulet around her neck, a side reference to her associations with the writings of Aleister Crowley and the Church of Satan, for starters. I did feel like I was learning something about her, even if it was a rouse, but the beauty about a title like this is that you can get away with a little revisionism, all in the name of entertainment. And in all fairness, it couldn’t get much worse than some of the questionable imagery of the Dark Horse runs, and the light that must have cast her in.
In conclusion, let’s discuss recommendations. I would not only recommend this comic to fans of all things vintage, or collectors of iconoclastic media, but also to comic fans who seek out light-hearted, recognisable romps with a safely darker edge. It’s looking backwards but with slightly more modern sensibilities. The thing is, I’ve got a feeling a lot of readers aren’t going to get too hung up on that.
Thank you for reading our review of Betty Page #1. We here at the Chico Comics Page appreciate your viewership. We invite you to check back with us soon as we post often. Or, you can follow us on Facebook (The Chico Comics Page) and Twitter (@ChicoComicsPage) for regular updates on all of our posts.
Review written by Arun S.
WHAT IS THE HERO INITIATIVE?
The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. Since inception, the Hero Initiative has been fortunate enough to benefit more than 50 creators and their families with over $950,000 worth of much-needed aid, fueled by your contributions! It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.