There’s Nothing There is a sexy book. I mean, primarily because of the nudity and graphic depictions of sex (which, heads up, makes it NSFW and a careful read on the train, as I found out). More so than merely a literal connotation, the book exudes sex from its very pores. Patrick Kindlon and Maria Llovet’s story of a New York socialite turned victim of paranormal mystery is young, hip, cool, and stylish. Reno, our protagonist, is perpetually worried about paparazzi but unfazed by the orgy telegraphed by the naked wait staff at the mansion party she attends at the opening book.
Writer: Patrick Kindlon
Artist: Maria Llovet
Publisher: Black Mask Studio
If that last sentence doesn’t convey my point about its sexiness, I don’t know what would.
Also, check out how quickly things are established on that first page. Between Llovet’s fashion-focused design and Kindlon’s articulation of the concerns of rich people, by panel six we know exactly who we’re dealing with and what kind of world we’re living in; an impressive feat of lighting fast tone-setting.
The orgy then happens as predicted, but a mysterious bent to it occurs, prophecy is alluded to, and when Reno wakes up hung over, she sudden has the ability to see dead people. It is yet to be seen how it will affect her social life. I can’t imagine it’ll be a good thing.
Pretty sexy right?
The urbane style that permeates the book is not always matched by substance, however. Kindlon and Llovet do really well jumping into the story at the last possible second; the mansion party orgy sequence immediately throws us into the mystery of the book without hesitation and launches off with plenty of energy. That said, they then spend the second two thirds of the book creating an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians but with Ghosts, and that means a lot of real estate gets sacrificed to trivial things like Reno’s relationship with John Boyega. None of this dialogue feels superfluous or dishonest, and Llovet does an excellent job creating this world, but the accumulative effect of the book’s uneven pacing is that by the end of the issue, I was left saying to myself, “Oh. That’s all we’re getting through in this installment? Huh. There isn’t more?”
This, of course, is the first chapter of their saga. There was plenty that needed introduction, I get that, and Kindlong and Llovet clearly have plans. At the same time though, if you break down the beats of book and really look at what steps are taken forward in the story, the book becomes as dangerously thin as so many New York socialites.
Then there’s Kindlon’s note at the end. This next gripe is more subjective than the rest of my review, so take it with a particularly large grain of salt, but I was very much turned off by it. It left a bad taste in my mouth about Kindlon’s handling of past projects. Hearing his personal voice, his thoughts behind the creation of There’s Nothing There, and his attitude about creating comics gave me a new lens through which to see his story which made its weaknesses harder to forgive; he retroactivity colored my reading of the book for the worse. The conversation about whether you can separate the art from the artist will rage on forever, but the fact that I’m even opening that can of worms at all is a weird thing to do as the last impression of a first issue of a new comic. Weird move.