Everyone once and a while I just get a good feeling about something I know nothing about. That’s how I felt when Terry Moore’s Echo: The Complete Series arrived at our store. I actually waited to check it out and started reading Strangers in Paradise instead, but Echo kept on calling to me so I finally broke down and bought it.
Echo is the story of Julie Martin, who happens to be out in the desert taking photographs when an explosion overhead rains down strange metal beads that stick to her skin and can’t be removed. Once she’s home, she finds that the beads have migrated together, forming a silver chest plate with a strange symbol on the front– and it can‘t be removed. What follows is a riveting action story, with Julie forced on the run by the mysterious company that created the suit. She makes friend along the way, faces down sinister bad guys and is ultimately faced with the challenge of saving the world.
What elevates Echo above the countless other action stories that follow the same basic ’on-the-run’ plotline is it’s instantly relatable characters. The protagonist, Julie, is remarkable well drawn and interesting. She feels like a real person and her reactions to her spectacular circumstances are believable. Terry Moore is known for his realistic portrayal of women, particularly their physical shape. Julie and the other ladies in the book are not rail thin with inflatable boobies (like so many other woman in comics)– they have some minor fat rolls, thicker necks and generally softer bodies. While that in itself is refreshing, they’re still presented in a fairly sexualized way. The heroines clothes disintegrate every time she used her powers, and there were countless scenarios concocted solely for the purpose of having one of the females in the story strip down to her undies. I’m not complaining; I don’t have a problem with fan service. But in the past I’ve heard T. Moore’s work being touted as “feminist” and I have to say that while he does write endearing women, he’s absolutely writing from a man’s perspective.
Since we’re already on the topic of character design, I want to address the artwork, which is some of the best I’ve ever seen in a comic. This was one of those books where I was eager to get to the next page, but I felt like it was a shame not to pour over the intensely detailed artwork, particularly to geniusly executed gore. The more disturbing, grotesque panels are fascinating to look at. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the jawless villain who shows up mid story– it was just so interesting to look at something that could not exist in the real world illustrated in such delightful detail. And I love that the entire book is in black and white. That coupled with the clean layouts makes Echo a visually superior read. It’s almost tranquil.
In summery: Echo is a thoroughly engrossing story featuring a handful strong female characters, great dialogue and stunning art and while it features the curvaceous woman and the hints of intimacy between female characters that Terry Moore is know for, it‘s probably a bit more accessible than his other popular (but less polished) work, Strangers in Paradise. This is definitely a book that appeals to a wide audience and could be enjoyed by anyone. It ‘s not a book you read and put away; it demands to be reread and lingered over.