The truth is exactly what every teenager believes: Music is magic.

That’s does not, however, mean it’s always a good thing…  Your Major Spoilers review of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1 awaits!

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie/Sarah Gordon/Clayton Cowles
Colorist: Matthew Wilson/Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Chrissy Williams
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl: ” Nearly a decade ago, Emily Aster sold half her personality for the power to rule a coven of phonomancers. I’m sure nothing could go horribly, monstrously wrong now. In a world where Music is Magic, a song can save or ruin your life. In THE IMMATERIAL GIRL, we discover what a video can do…”


I admit it: I’m one of those newfangled Gillen/McKelvie fans, as I only really became aware of their work on Young Avengers for Marvel, extending to The Wicked + The Divine, so I’m walking into this issue blind.  Still, this issue isn’t hard to get into, starting off with first-person narration from Emily, the titular Immaterial Girl, and the story of how she came to sacrifice half of herself for a better version.  Things get quickly weird (but in a good way) and I’m suddenly gripped by the desire to pick up a copy of ‘The Singles Club’ trade in order to have a better grasp of the situation.  In a nutshell:  , Circa the year 2001, Emily, sorta-kinda main character David Kohl and a roomful of like-minded Phonomancer types form a coven for mostly unrevealed, mystical purposes.  I really don’t know exactly what happens next (although the character of Seth Bingo reminds me much of my college friend, Otter Disaster, and his dialogue is priceless), but it’s all very entertaining to read.  The story jumps forward 8 years, to the year 2009, where Emily’s emotional/power defenses fall for a moment, and…

…everything changes.


As a child of the 1980s, I get lots of the things in this issue (including a truly inspired build-up to a riff on A-Ha’s classic video for ‘Take On Me’), but with a wicked, poisonous cliffhanger ending.  I don’t understand all of the musical references, but thankfully, Gillen and McKelvie have provided a helpful Glossary in the back of the issue to help explain anything that’s not immediately understandable from context.  I will never say a bad word about McKelvie’s lovely artwork, though, and though this one is more realistically grounded than the madness that is WicDiv, it’s nonetheless beautiful and otherworldly when it needs to be.  I’m impressed at how easy it it to slip into Emily’s story without any real background with the title, and the references that I don’t get have the feel of someone excitedly trying to explain all the cool music they love rather than someone gatekeeping me away from some imaginary cool kids room.  Extra-points go to everyone involved for the fun 80s Nagel-inspired cover, which is only part of the well-curated package in this comic book…


Long story short, this story has me looking for previous Phonogram tales, and has put this one in my ‘buy on sight’ list.  Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1 overcomes the inherent issues of joining a complex story halfway through, and is clearly a labor of love for all involved, with excellent art and an intriguing, personal bit of story, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s my first Phonograph issue, but it’s not going to be my last…

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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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