Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost #1 is not for the faint of heart. It is a raucous, over-the-top mind-f*** of a book with art that not only attacks but also violates your senses at every turn. It’s an emotional, deeply personal journey into a pulsating heart of darkness that is unlike any comic you’re likely to find on the shelves.
Somewhere on the fringes of outer space, a young girl named Dio is preparing to embark on a dangerous and potentially deadly mission. Along with a mysterious merc-for-hire named Turtleneck Jones, Dio is about to face off against the forces of the galaxy’s most fearsome entity, The Teeth! Will Dio’s first bounty-hunting job also be her last?
Creator Jim Mahfood returns to the psychedelic and cyberpunk-esque Grrl Scouts universe with this latest entry in his creator-owned series. If this is your first foray into the series, buckle up, because you don’t just read a Mahfood comic–you experience it. Mahfood’s art is a visceral shock to the senses; every line is drawn with a sense of urgency and frenetic energy that never seems rushed. His very distinct style does present a challenge at times, with the occasional small panels and lettering that is so tight it can be difficult to read or truly comprehend what’s happening. But like I said, this is a book you experience, and the style is all just part of the fun.
Much like the art, Mahfood’s writing is all over the place, but it works so well in this universe. Its ties to previous stories within the Grrl Scouts universe are mostly subtle and never make the book seem less than accessible. He deftly balances Dio’s emotional and heartbreaking soliloquy with silly, borderline stupid jokes that come out of nowhere. A scene of intense danger is undercut with a bizarre, hilarious exchange about cheesecake. No idea is too crazy, no design too over-the-top. And yet his characters are full of pathos and emotion, so it’s easy to sympathize with them, even when the choices they make are not exactly the best.
Included in this issue are a series of bonus features, including some back-up comics, which are every bit as entertaining as the main story, if not more so. The first is a no-holds-barred trip into Mahfood’s irreverent style, while the second is an autobiographical tale that is heartbreaking in a number of ways. And while they couldn’t be more different, both tales enrich and inform the main story, peeling back the layers to reveal the deeply personal story Mahfood is trying to tell. It’s an experience that ultimately sticks with you well past its blood-soaked cliffhanger.