Written and Illustrated by Jacob Semahn, Jorge Corona, and Jen Hickman
No. 1 With a Bullet is a very modern graphic novel. The subject matter and art are all very much of the time we’re in now. It’s a story that needs to be told, I’m just not sure I like the execution.
It’s about a young woman who is an assistant for a male celebrity and is involved with a company that develops a sort of VR contact lens. She is fairly happy with her life and her personal relationship with her girlfriend until a video is leaked to the public.
Before she became involved with her current girlfriend she had sex with a man, she’s bisexual this shouldn’t be shocking but to many people it still is, and the man taped it with the aforementioned contact lenses.
Minor spoiler here: it turns out the man was her boss.
From there the media gets a hold of this and spins it out of control all against our poor heroine. She’s considered to be an uncontrollable slut and he’s just the hot single man who got laid.
Her life is basically in shambles from all angles and she spirals out pretty hard. Understandably.
There are a few twists and turns the book takes that I won’t get into without a spoiler full review but the horror of the book lies in those twists, and it does get there. The book is pretty uncomfortable to read and I think it should be.
There are many things I very much liked about this book and we’ll get into that but there are also some major flaws. Let’s get those out of the way first.
The execution of the story is deeply flawed. It’s chaotic and confusing and overall it lacks focus. The authors seemed so determined to classify it as sci fi that they lost focus of the political commentary at times. But then got so focused on the political commentary they forgot to make it sci fi.
It waffles back and forth in what it wants to be and ends up being not enough of anything in the end. Additionally, the panels and pages are organized in a way that is also confusing and off putting.
Speaking of off putting, it’s ugly. There are some cool colors and a few good pages but the characters are gross looking. They’re all wonky angles and snarled lips. And at least two of the female characters look so similar to me I thought they were one in the same for longer than I’d like to admit.
What I did like was the extreme reactions of the protagonist to her extreme situation. She breaks all the way down. As almost all of us would. We all like to think that we’re stronger than the average woman but most of us would crumble under a life shattering event like this. At least temporarily.
I also really liked a discussion the book had about the acceptance of bisexual people. As a bisexual woman I’ve had this exact discussion before. In the book the girlfriend says she was hesitant to “date bi.” Bi people are considered more promiscuous and less capable of monogamy, even by the LGBTQ+ community and it doesn’t really get talked about.
I am deeply appreciative of this discussion being brought to light. It happens all the time. It’s a lingering form of discrimination that far too many people still accept.
Now, one more thing I didn’t like about this book. The ending.
Personally, I didn’t agree with the message at the end and was not happy with the outcome. Another minor spoiler with hopefully not giving away the whole bit, the solution to a problem should never be for the victim to isolate themselves away from it and pretend everything’s okay.
The wrongdoers should be held accountable, the victim shouldn’t have to continue being one.
I do not recommend No. 1 With a Bullet for the purpose of light reading. I do recommend it for the purpose of starting a conversation. It’s sure to be polarizing even within your own friend group and might start some real interesting and productive dialogues.
2.5/5 pride flags 🏳🌈🏳🌈
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Buy it here: No. 1 With A Bullet