REVIEW: ‘Golden Age’

(Ginger Rabbit Studio, 2013)

Review by Brad Gischia

Story by Rob Harrington & Giulie Speziani
Art by Cecilia Latella
Letters by Deron Bennett
Design by Christopher Kosek
Colors (Page 5) Dustin Evans

My entry into a love of comics came the way most kids’ did. Someone gave me a book or I bought one, and I was instantly locked into a war of good an evil, blacks and whites, the stark reality of unrealities. It’s easy to fall into that.

Then I read The Dark Knight Returns. I saw how a hero could be a complicated character, a many-faceted person much like the people that I was probably avoiding on a daily basis by reading comics. I started to read other kinds of books, the horror books that I had walked past, the darker stuff that began coming out of smaller companies like Image and Dark Horse, and longer graphic novels like Art Spiegelman’s Maus. It took a long time for me to understand the truth of comics, and that is that it is more than just a way to make money, more than flashy colors and spandex, more than grim and gritty realism. Comic books are a medium, the ether through which ideas can be transmitted.

Rob Harrington and Giulie Speziani know this as well.

With their recent release, Golden Age, they are transmitting an idea.

Despite it’s comic book roots, Golden Age looks and reads like a fairy tale or children’s book. It is the story of a young girl in northern Italy just after World War II has ended. Rosa has lost her mother, no specifics on how, but it seems to be in the past for her. As she is going to school one day she trips over the corpse of a soldier that has lain in a field all winter. This is her moment, her introduction to the media, because several comic books have spilled out of his satchel. She apologizes and takes them, and they transform her life. She and her best friend Mario fall into the rabbit-hole as it were, and find themselves completely enamored with “Fire Girl”, the heroine within.

The book has the look of watercolor, which lends itself to the feeling of a children’s book that I mentioned earlier. Cecilia Latella has a great eye for the tone of the book. It feels like someone has told this story, passed it down, and this is the recreation of that.

Rob Harrington and Guilie Speziani have created a book with no obvious hero, no obvious villain. (Though a case can be made for both.) It tells the story of how quickly children can heal, even after the horrors of war and loss of a parent. The comic book is only a peripheral part of the story here. It’s really about the power the imagination has to make us overlook the truly horrible things that can happen. Not only is The Golden Age a beautiful looking book, but it also packs a poignant, thoughtful story.

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Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter:  @comicwasteland

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