So what happens when a Circus Psychic/Fortune Teller (Anna), who actually doesn’t believe in the supernatural, suddenly finds her twin sister (Kat, the Circus Knife Thrower) stabbed to death and then finds that her sister’s ghost now inhabits her body? That is the opening premise for Megan Rose Gedris’ Spectacle comic series. Throw in a diverse group of Circus performers, Side-show “freaks” and a dose of mystery and you have the start of something unique.
Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t read issue 9 and want to, go no further! Otherwise, as you were citizen.
As issue 9 begins, things are beginning to unravel a bit as a number of the circus performers are being transformed into “freaks.” With all of the weird things happening the head of the circus, Jebediah Tetnus, has sunk into a hole of despair and self -pity, as he tries to understand what is going on at his Circus. This has rendered him pretty useless. Meanwhile, Anna is doing her best to console her friend Flora, the snake charmer, who was one of those afflicted. Her arms have turned into almost serpentine appendages and she knows that she’ll be sent back to the freak show. However, since she is going back, she resolves to help Anna by spying on the inhabitants to try to learn how these transformations are happening. In addition, now that Ike (circus roustabout) was also murdered in the last issue, they have two deaths to investigate with the only clue being a leaf they found with Ike’s body that was covered with the same type of flecks that were found near her sister’s body.
Meanwhile, her sister Kat is becoming concerned that Anna is no longer safe there at the circus and she should learn to defend herself using the knives that Kat once used in her act. As Anna makes the attempt, Kat realizes she can perhaps teach her better by taking over her body and showing her how to do it, much to Anna’s chagrin. With Kat in control, Anna does well but when Kat releases control to Anna she is no better at it than before. She does discover however what she first believes is moss on the floor is actually plants with the same kinds of leaves that were found with Ike.
At that moment, Flora comes in and asks Anna if she would stay the night with her in her trailer as she is scared. She agrees and Flora tells her that the Circus Performers still treat the “freaks” poorly, even though many of them used to BE performers before their transformations. She laments that they don’t see the freaks as human anymore and the worse the “Twins” (conjoined twins Eve and Lynn and leaders of the “freakshow”) behave, the worse it gets.
The next morning, Anna runs into Nettie, who “plays” the Circus Mermaid. Netti is complaining that she now has human legs calling them “mutations” and wonders how it is that humans get around on them. Anna asks Kat why she thinks Nettie keeps insisting she is “real” Mermaid. Kat suggests that maybe she is and just wears the fake tail over her real one. “Why would she do that?” asks Anna. “Modesty?” Replies Kat as the naked Nettie stumbles about on her new “legs.”
The next day, Anna is having breakfast with Flora, when the twins come in and tell Flora that she is no longer allowed to speak to “Normies” and if she did want to, she had to pass it through Alva first, their three armed female enforcer. Anna stood up and told Flora she didn’t have to listen to them, which prompted the twins to set Alva upon Anna. Kat, knowing that Anna was no match for Alva, possessed Anna once again, throwing a fork at Alva’s head while forcing Anna to run away.
Later, while trying to pass time by making a house of tarot cards, Kat startles Anna by coming right through her chest. She asks Anna what she is doing and Anna states that she is trying a new technique in Tarot card reading. Kat asks her what the cards told her. “That my sister is a JERK,” replied Anna. It is during this moment of Sisterly bonding (which was a great segment that most siblings could relate to) that Anna tells Kat she would prefer that she doesn’t possess her body without permission. Kat agrees unless she fears that Anna is in danger.
By now, all of the circus performers are becoming restless without any performances to do. They “ gather at Tenus trailer and tell him they need to move on to another town. He reluctantly agrees but tells them not to bother him until they arrive at their new destination. Right after that decision is made, Flora sneaks around to tell Anna that she misses her and to tell her what she has learned. She came upon Isabel (the bearded lady), who was crying and holding on to one of Kat’s Costumes saying “she never should have touched her and she damned them both.” Flora wondered if Isabel might have had something to do with Kat’s death. Anna meant to find out but Kat stopped her, telling her to leave Isabel alone and that she was innocent. When Anna failed to listen, Kat possessed her again to stop her from speaking to Isabel. She did this in front of Flora who feared that Anna was possessed (which she was, kind of). Kat released Anna and told her that Isabel was not her murderer, she was her girlfriend. While they were talking, Flora came back and splashed Anna with some holy water to “save her.” As the issue ended, Anna told Flora that they needed to talk and she would tell her everything that was going on.
When reviewing a comic I am unfamiliar with, I look at certain things. Number one, does the cover inspire me to pick up the issue, or in the the case of an e-comic, to turn to the next page and read further. In the case of Spectacle# 9, first task accomplished. The art work on the cover is stylish and reminds me of the Muses on Disney’s Hercules. Megan Rose Gedris draws the characters on her covers Long, Lanky, and elegant, in spite of the fact the young lady on this cover has a mustache. It immediately draws you in and at the same time gives an abject lesson in diversity, which is a main theme in this issue and from the story as a whole.
The second thing I look for is can I follow the storyline despite not having read the previous issues. If I am lost during the story then some background information should have been included for people like myself that have not read the previous issues. In this particular case, it was a little difficult to follow without knowing more about the characters previously. For example, in the very first panel, you have Gus cleaning the tent and at first glance, it appeared that he was speaking to himself until you realized that he was talking to the face that was on the back of his head. However, once you get a feel for the environment, things begin to fall into place. Gedris tells her story in a smooth linear fashion only flashing back in time where necessary, like in the segment where Kat tells Anna about her and Isabel’s relationship. Each panel is a splash of color and a unique drawing style that works well with the story. Although, it is her aforementioned cover work that really shows of her skills. Each one is an explosion of color and fine lined illustrations. So what does that mean? She is really good at what she does.
If you are a fan of the supernatural, mystery, and diverse inter-character relationships, you should certainly check out Megan Rose Gedris’ Spectacle. I might recommend you start from the beginning to really grasp what is going on and to understand the different relationships in play. But with a little due diligence, you will be just fine. The covers alone are worth the price of admission. Give it your time, you might be glad you did.
Spectacle #9 – OniPress
(Digital Release) by Megan Rose Gedris
Age Rating: Young Adult Audiences
I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 15 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.