Holli Hoxx appeared on my doorstep like a bolt out of the blue – unannounced and demanding my attention. This first installment of the graphic novel trilogy not only sets up the scenario, but establishes a mad world where gravity has gone haywire and people rely on corporations to keep them tethered to the ground. In the midst of it all this chaos, a beautiful young woman of mystery appears, out of time and out of place.
The year is 2051 in New York City and gravity is a thing of the past. For the last thirty years, Tycho Industries has remained the only manufacturer and seller of gravity boots. However, a new company, called Newton, has now entered the ring with a plan to finally restore gravity back to the city once and for all (putting an end to the need for gravity boots). Meanwhile, a destructive gang known as the Lunaticks, who reside in the now abandoned Manhattan Island, terrorize the city and all those who dwell within. Caught up in the middle is Holli Hox. Once the face of Tycho Industries, Holli now finds herself thirty years in the future braving an unfamiliar world. With the Newton company’s ceremony to restore gravity back to New York in less than 24 hours, and a paralyzing illness weighing her down, Holli must find her father and discover her destiny before time is up.
Holli Hoxx is a challenging graphic novel. It does not spoon-feed the reader. It does not come out and say exactly what is happening. The reader has to pay attention, read between the lines, and sometimes plow ahead in the hopes that things will get clearer. People who stick with it will be rewarded with a unique and original concept with layer upon layer of intrigue.
What is most interesting is the fact that this is a post-apocalyptic world unlike anything we have seen before. Gravity has simply ceased to function. People are forced to rely on either small-radius gravity generators for their homes, or shoes which work as portable gravity fields. However, if they are ever out and about, and the shoes lose power, the wearer will simply float out of the atmosphere and die! People live in a constant state of stress as to whether or not their shoes will one day give out on them.
The world created in this book is full of interesting characters and intricate scenarios. Things happen quickly, keeping the pace of the book moving forward. Each new scene, while maybe not directly related to the one that comes before, layers on more information, or drops a new detail which enriches the tapestry of the world. For example, there is a scene which, at first does not make much sense as it happens in space. However, it is soon revealed that these astronauts are not there for some scientific duty. They are there to collect the bodies of people whose shoes gave out and who drifted into space. It is gruesome work. And as the scene progresses it becomes clear that there is even more at play here than just a couple of people who have forgotten to charge their boots. Another layer to the story which will, hopefully, be firther explored as the next volumes are released.
The biggest challenge was the frenetic art of Stefano Cardoselli. At times it was breathtaking. the scene where Holli first sees Manhattan is worthy of being blown up to poster size and framed. Unfortunately most of the book is not so enjoyable to look at. Cardoselli uses pen and watercolor to produce the art. It creates a binary effect with the blacks on the page. Either they are seemingly non-existant (all the lines in the characters have the same weight) or they are overwhelming (the shadows overpower the pages). This makes many panels, and sometimes even entire pages, difficult to decipher. Cardoselli also has difficulties with consistency when it comes to depicting his characters. Characters change so much that I was forced to re-read one scene three times before I could make out who one of the characters was. Considering his identity was an important plot point, the power of the scene was diminished significantly by the inconsistent art.
One other thing confused me about the book: the title. The main character is named Holli Hox. One X. That’s it. So why are there the X’s on the cover? XXX insinuates pornography. There is nothing in this book that is pornographic (nor should there be). The addition of the extra X’s to the end of the title gives potential readers the wrong impression and probably drives away more readers than it invites. Not sure why the creators went with this title given there are so many more which would better describe the book, or not invite potential confusion.
In the end, a strong concept and central mystery win out over muddled art. Holli Hoxxx is a strong debut and is ripe with potential. I eagerly await the next installment!
Interested in ordering your own copy of Holli Hoxxx? You can do so here.