After how much I enjoyed The Short While, I figured I should get Jeremy Sorese’s first graphic novel, Curveball. This is also a science fiction queer romance set in a near-future type setting, but it felt less assured than The Short While and I found it a bit harder to follow. Curveball follows Avery and their friend/roommate Jacqueline, who live in a city where there is an energy crisis and a war happening. Avery is a waiter who is having a hard time at their job on a cruise ship, and their old crush Christophe comes back to town, precipitating a rough time for everyone. The energy crisis part of the book and the war were both confusing — Sorese lays out an explanation of how the energy problem works (which has two names in the book, “the snap” and “the bolt revolt”), which has something to do with “large free range clusters of energy” and issues with equilibrium, but it can also be caused by emotions? There was clearly a metaphor about consumption, emotions, and environmentalism happening, but it seemed like it was hard for the author to get across.
The color palate of the book is primarily black and white, with shades of grey. Orange is used as a highlight color, which was both very well done and very distracting because it was a bright orange and there are several pages that are just in orange and are hard to read. But overall, Sorese’s art is wonderful as usual and there are some really effective and beautiful emotional sequences. Once I got a chunk into it, I was interested in what would happen with Avery’s romantic life and if their relationship with Christophe would work out, and I liked the SF elements (robots, brain computers, etc). But I think this book suffers from first book syndrome, where the author is so excited by their concept that they stick everything in there and the lack of focus makes the overall narrative suffer as a result. I felt that Avery’s ending was abrupt and their attitude switched very quickly, which didn’t feel satisfying as a reader.
However, it’s still a beautifully done book and an interesting entry into the SF graphic novel canon. I enjoyed it and think anyone who likes queer romance and SF would as well.
Warnings for: war (bombings), minor motorcycle accident, small acts of violence, blood in one scene (but not a huge amount).