What is The Discipline?
I dunno, either, but that cover does not fill me with expectations of rainbows, lollipops and joyful frolicking… Your Major Spoilers review of The Discipline #1 awaits!
Previously in The Discipline:From his earliest days working in Britain’s ‘2000 AD’ comic, Peter Milligan has courted controversial subjects. His work often delves into psycho-sexual themes, as well as examining questions of mortality, human nature and pulling no punches in the depiction of subjects that are unpleasant, uncomfortable and not at all polite. When I saw this issue’s cover in the ‘Previews,’ I was intrigued and repelled at the same time, and my first thought was “This could go really, really bad places.”
Turns out, I was only sort of right…
DO I NEED TO SAY ‘FOR ADULT AUDIENCES?’
This issue opens with a sex scene, one that is really well-drawn and blocked out, balancing the line of artistic and overt very well, and ending with a truly frightening moment, as both participants are transformed into inhuman forms. As first scenes go, it’s a great one, giving you a taste of what the book is about and clearly allowing readers to engage themselves early in the events of the issue. It does serve as a bit of a spoiler, though, as we immediately flashback to the main character, Melissa Peake in her life before The Discipline. Melissa is 23, with a troubling family life that she has outgrown, a distant husband who never actually appears in the issue (a nice touch), and a fascination with Goya’s painting ‘The Venus And The Satyr,’ depicting a not-entirely-consensual sexual encounter between a woman and a monster. That also serves as the them for the book, as Melissa finds herself pursued by Orlando, who makes it clear that his interests are both sexual and unusual…
SERIOUSLY, FOR ADULT AUDIENCES
I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of the story in this issue. I understand the themes in play, and appreciate that Melissa is clearly interested in Orlando as well, but Orlando’s actions in this issue skirt the line of consensuality very closely, and the combination of blood, guts and sex is a very hard balance to maintain. Fernandez’ art is lovely throughout, and the depictions of nudity and sex are well-handled, serving the story without becoming the sole focus. It’s a story full of nudity that’s not focused on the pornographic, and that’s an impressive achievement. His art is a little bit ill-served by the dark purples and grays of the coloring work here, though, which makes it feel like the creative team is working hard to get away with as much as possible artistically, but using the murky coloring to obscure details that would push the work too far into the realm of “sex book.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY CHALLENGING
There’s a lot to unpack here, and I want to stress that this book is not for those who aren’t ready to deal with horror and sex together (Melissa at one point imagines herself hanging on a slaughterhouse hook, nude and covered in blood and viscera, which is the point where I decided that I am not the target audience.) In short, The Discipline #1 may not be for everyone, but if you’re interested in seeing an erotic thriller with arcane overtones and perhaps a little too much influence from recent high-profile stories involving bondage and such, this may be your jam, leaving the book with a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. There’s potential here, certainly, even if it’s not a story that I expect to come back for more of…