Ever have one of those experiences where the world is falling to pieces around you but you feel calm and at peace, and even achieve a moment of clarity? Welcome to the latest issue of She Could Fly, where we return to the continuing saga of Luna Brewster, a 15-year old teenager dealing with severe mental health issues, and her obsession with a flying woman who blew up in the air amidst a public spectacle.
After a few issues of unbelievably good table-setting, in this episode the pace quickens and you almost can’t keep up with everything that’s going on. The crux of the story is the easy part: Luna, Bill and Verna go off in search of additional clues behind what caused the death of Mayura Howard, the mysterious flying woman. Meanwhile, multiple parties are after them. Bill’s former employers are hot on his tail to track down the technology the flying woman used. Luna’s guidance counselor is secretly following Luna. And the ghosts of the past are chasing Luna and finally catch up to her in a beautiful sequence that takes place near the end. The events of this episode take us to a position where by the end, Luna has finally achieved some sort of purpose in spite of her condition, Verna and Bill have reversed roles, and the bad guys have gotten some critical information and are bound to cause some major trouble in the final chapter.
That is all on the surface level and seems exciting enough. But it’s the subtler things that make this yet another fantastic entry. For starters, and most importantly, we finally meet the Flying Woman herself, even if it’s not exactly in the way we would have expected. There is a moment of understanding, a brief look exchanged between her and Luna, and no words need to be said. Finally, Luna has someone who knows what she is going through, completely. And it’s not just the Flying Woman who is added to the mix, but another interesting character who has familial connections for Luna. The fact that the story can still introduce new and compelling characters in a unique way, this late in the game, is a testament to Cantwell’s superior world building.
Indeed, the entire issue is about character exploration. Beyond just Luna, the rest of the supporting characters go on journeys as well. Bill Meigs the scientist and Verna the prostitute completely switch roles. By issue’s end, we see Bill for the cruel human being he is, and Verna shows that she is so much more than she appears, taking charge of a life-threatening situation and ultimately doing justice to the Flying Woman’s legacy. Even the villains of the story, Bill’s former employers, are taken much further in a few brief appearances in this issue than they were in both first issues combined. Previously portrayed as bumbling goons, in this issue out of the gate they are firmly established as sadists who will take down anyone and anything to get what they want by lighting an entire office on fire. Later on, they are willing to dangle people off buildings to get them to talk. There is one weak spot — the guidance counselor also does a huge 180, but unlike all the other character progressions, hers feels a bit random and unnecessary.
This brings us back to Luna. There is a moment when it’s just Luna and Verna, an unlikely pairing of characters, waiting for Bill in the car as he follows a lead about the Flying Woman. Luna suddenly unloads in a way that those of who struggle with mental illness can completely relate to. It’s the push and pull of trying to be good but having utterly depraved voices beneath the surface trying to drag you and turn you into something horrible, that could harm others, and if you give in, you will be completely cut off from any sort of rehabilitation. The run-on sentence is utterly realistic and heartbreaking in its construction. Verna’s silent reaction of shock is excellently contrasted with Bill’s fury and complete misunderstanding and lack of care and underlines the changes these characters undergo when push comes to shove.
To deliver these kinds of moments, the visuals really go all out. Morazzo is his usual intense, dark and twisted self with unique facial expressions galore, but the real star in the art department this go-around is colorist Miroslav Mrva. The previous issues have generally maintained some degree of restraint when it comes to colors, but here Mrva gets to show off his staggering artistic versatility. With the introduction of several flashbacks and the dream sequence, which serves as the climax of the issue, almost every color in the palette needs to be used and the end result is absolutely gorgeous.
She Could Fly continues to keep an amazing degree of consistency and high quality as the series approaches the end. Things are coming to a head in the narrative and Luna and the readers get answers to questions they were asking since the beginning and ultimately attain a refreshing clarity and peace of mind. The question remains, though, whether there is any hope of surviving to be able to truly enjoy this inner peace.