Comic Review: Emily and the Strangers #1

Emily and the Strangers #1
Written by Mariah Huehner, Rob Reger
Art by Emily Ivie
Cover by Emily Ivie and Buzz Parker
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: January 30, 2013
Cover Price: $3.99

So, Emily the Strange is a kind of a big deal. This character has been the focal point of a popular clothing and accessories label since the 90s. Emily has also starred in other comics, novels, and an upcoming live-action movie. I’ve never seen or heard of her, so how well her character ties-in with this comic is not something I can judge. All I’m looking for is an entertaining comic series, and writers Rob Reger and Mariah Huehner deliver with Emily and the Strangers #1.

Emily the Strange is a very untypical teenager. She spends her free time huddled away in her cat-infested lab inventing contraptions such as time machines and thinking caps. If Doc Brown from Back to the Future were a brooding, teenage girl, then he would probably resemble Emily.

Emily’s goal in life is to create a huge zorking invention. By the way, “Zork” is to Emily and the Strangers what “Frak” is to Battlestar Galactica. She hears about a radio contest that will giveaway the Haunted Guitar of Professa K to the lucky winner. All you have to do: submit the best rock song by the end of the week. Emily vows to win.

Emily is the epitome of a loner. She’s well on her way to growing into the dreaded cat-lady. Her lab overflows with nefarious black cats that are hellbent on derailing her ideas and destroying any successful inventions. Emily eventually crosses paths with Evan the Intern, a prodigal musician. He takes it upon himself to fill in the gaps in Emily’s music to take it from Meh to Awesome. Evan wants to combine forces and create a full-fledged rock band. Emily is not the type to play well with others, so this relationship promises to be full of all sorts of juicy, awkward, emo rage and conflict.

Emily and the Strangers has a very Scott Pilgrim-y vibe to it. That’s one of my all-time favorite comic series, so I was immediately drawn to Emily the Strange. The comic has a tongue-in-cheek, hipster sensibility that revolves around rock bands and music. Aesthetically, artist Emily Ivie uses a similar Americanized-anime style as Scott Pilgrim with big eyes, pointy hair, and thick, bold line work. Mariah Huehner and Rob Reger’s story is not at all a “Scott Pilgrim for chicks,” but if Emily ever sprouts a pee status bar above her head, I’m calling shenanigans.

It’s weird; I actually liked Emily and the Strangers more when I had no idea about the origins of this character. Now I feel as if I liked this comic more than I should’ve. Had I known Emily’s history, I probably would’ve never given this comic a chance. But I’m glad that I didn’t toss this comic into my totally biased, Mental Trash Can of Indifference. Emily the Strange is a unique, change-of-pace from the typical comic book fare. I have no doubt that most comic readers can find something here to enjoy.

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