G. Willow Wilson is flying through Air with the greatest of ease. Okay, sorry about the cheap pun, but it's true. Wilson, a gifted and intriguing young writer, is turning into a talent to watch when it comes to offbeat, magical realism comics for the next generation.
That is to say, she does a bang-up job of combining Lost-style conspiracy theories with no shortage of cliffhangers (Amelia Earhart makes an appearance here, and she fits right in, delight that she is). Our guide to this otherworldly realm is Blythe, a flight attendant for a fictional airline. Blythe is deathly afraid of heights and falling, but don't worry, this is not some simple trope for a series about flying. The old joke goes that it's not falling that one should be afraid of; it's the sudden stop at the end. In Blythe's case, her fear is that she'll continue to fall, on an on, past the ground and deeper and deeper. She may have good reason for this fear. Absolutely nothing she knows or thinks she knows is exactly true in this book.
Blythe first gets drawn into the madness of the strange world when she meets Zayn aboard a flight. She suspects him of being a terrorist, but he's not. He's quite a bit more. From there, Blythe is drawn into an ever-weirder plot involving hyperpraxis and the Etesian Front, the quest to change human travel lines forever, and the use of deadly force to prevent magical forces from changing the world forever. The title comes from a letter Blythe receives from Narimar, a country that doesn't exist. Yet if it doesn't exist, how is she receiving mail from there?
As with their previous Vertigo book, Cairo, Wilson and the always dependable M.K. Perker have created a nice little pocket of eeriness and strange behaviour. How long they can keep the mystery fresh and entertaining is anybody's guess right now, but for the time being, Air is fresh and compelling, a genuine treat.
Reviewed by John Hogan on July 2, 2012
Air, Vol. 1: Letters from Lost Countries