Julia Davenport has a problem in her sex life – whenever she orgasms, she releases a mysterious demonic entity with an unfortunate predilection for killing anyone in the vicinity. They didn’t cover that in sex ed lessons. In the first issue of Off Girl, independently published by its writer Tina Fine, we join Julia as she tries to avoid getting it on with anyone and learns more about her strange curse.
Though the concept may invite comparisons with the acclaimed series Sex Criminals – comparisons which it would be difficult to come out of favourably – it’s an interesting twist on the concept, with Julia’s superpower being more of a burden than a benefit. Fine uses this to explore the idea of a female character struggling with an overpowering need for sex, something that would stereotypically be more of a problem for men.
This, however, does factor in to one of the problems with this first issue. The story’s blurb proclaims that Julia has been faking her orgasms to avoid killing anyone, but the comic itself contradicts this, presenting us instead with a character who can’t seem to avoid accidentally getting laid (we wish we had this problem) and at one point orgasms after barely any sexual contact. Because it’s not made clear (or even acknowledged) why she’s so damn horny all the time, some of the decisions Julia makes make her difficult to like as a lead character.
This isn’t helped by the fact that the story starts with Julia already knowing about her power, which does add pacing but also leaves us confused at points, nor by the rushed manner in which a lot of the scenes are written, with dialogue being very to the point.
What does make the comic stand out, however, is Mark Reihill’s distinctive art style, which looks something like the cel-shaded style of A Scanner Darkly crossed with a modern noir. Moody and evocative, Reihill’s art forgoes detail in favour of striking character designs and strong chiaroscuro, a style which particularly fits one expressionistic sequence at the – ahem – climax of the issue.
Though the way her powers and story are handled is somewhat confused, Off Girl has an interesting enough lead character and an impressive enough look to it that we’re curious to see how it develops. The scenes that set up a serial killer villain are intriguing, and we’d love to get to know more of Julia’s backstory, so maybe after a few more issues, Off Girl will reach its peak.
OFF GIRL #1 / AUTHOR: TINA FINE / ARTIST: MARK REIHILL / PUBLISHER: PROJECT CLIMAX / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW