Top positive review
❗𝐀𝐝𝐨𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞❗
Reviewed in India on 24 April 2021
Charles Bruns’s Black Hole is a strange and very disturbing graphic novel Set in the Seattle suburbs of the 1970s depicting some teens engaging in drinking, booze, drugs, sex and a plague that inflicts mutations on anyone who catches it. Four central characters Keith, Rob, and Chris are caught in its pull and may never escape.
But hell yeah!! It is also one of the best graphic novels of all time. If a black hole’s effect of gravity pulling so hard on a site in space that light cannot get out, the black hole of this particular summer of sex and drugs looks at times like it is a vortex you could not recover from. Initially I was creeped out about it, but in close readings I began to see some warmth and compassion running through it. Charles Burns' throwback art is simultaneously sensitive and grotesque, depicting monstrous deformity, teenage angst, and gentler emotions with ease. The use of blacks is moody as hell and the book has a claustrophobic feel at times. The disruptive and discontinuous representation of chronology, of time, is innovative and consistent with the disruption of adolescence Burns represents
The story is set in one summer from a Seattle high school in the late seventies. Those four characters once bullied a boy named Dave also plays a central role. In the story young people begin to develop physical abnormalities as a result of developing sexual desire for someone, or actually having sex with someone. This transition to adulthood as Burns depicts it is infused with lots of drug use/hallucinations, and nightmares; while friendship is important in the story, it is mainly a tale of desire, fears, confusion and what happens if you are in any sense different as you pass from childhood to adulthood. The social distortion is matched by visual images of distorted bodies, though images of the natural world the sky, trees, ocean--and physical beauty (including bodies) are also present and at some points not all restorative.
Black Hole is a coming age novel with great complexity It features the supernatural and surreal, these strange physical protuberances and there is psychedelia that obscures our sense of things at times, but it is basically rooted in a familiar world we know, and of adolescence. It ends somewhat hopefully for some of the main characters as horror often can do. Evil exists, but it is human-made evil, preventable, avoidable. Black Hole is as difficult and challenging as any great post-modern novel, with visual representations that evoke the complexity of growing up instead of just words. As a story it’s not “fun” but is also not so disturbing that you can’t learn from it about what it means to make the often difficult transition to adulthood.
The story is told using shifting viewpoints in small morsels. There's no happy ending, nobody magically comes up with a cure for the sex plague. People just deal with it as best they can.