Book Review: Milky Way by Miguel Vila

Milky Way by Miguel Vila is a truly exceptional graphic novel for adults who aren’t bothered by artistic nudity and sexuality. Milky Way revolves around three people: Marco, a young student who is readying for exams and his driver’s test; Marco’s girlfriend, Stella, who gets a lot of guff from her friends and family for helping Marco too much financially; and Lulu, a new mother who has her own reasons to insinuate herself in between Marco and Stella.

Marco and Stella are in love but Marco is having trouble focusing during sex. It doesn’t help that Stella’s best friend, Daniele, is in love with Stella and he feels Marco isn’t good enough for Stella. One day Marco and Stella meet Lulu, a young mother, and Marco is instantly enthralled by Lulu’s humongous, lactating breasts. Marco begins to babysit for Lulu to be close to her and an unconventional affair ensues.

Milky Way is a story about trying to find love in unconventional ways and unconventional places. It is about trying to connect the present with the past without understanding that people will get hurt in the process. Watching Marco and Stella slowly drift apart is nearly as sad as watching Marco and Lulu come together. There are not going to be any winners in this tragic bit of eroticism.

Two warnings: First, Marco’s obsession with Lulu is graphic and depicted in full detail. This is a graphic novel for adults only. Second, Miguel Vila likes to use small frames to demonstrate the otherwise unnoticed: a mole, an armpit, a line of hair wending its way up the crack of an ass. All of this works and does a neat trick of showing the reader beauty where it isn’t usually found. However, some of those frames are literally the size of one-quarter of a postage stamp. There are hundreds of frames of similar size, some even with dialogue. Most readers should get used to the style fairly quickly, and those small frames end up adding more to the story than harming it. Miguel Vila keeps the pace up over the course of a short prologue and nine chapters, and these 170 pages pass quickly.

Fantagraphics is well known for its beautiful editions and Milky Way is no exception. This edition has thick, hard covers, and pink – of course – end papers. The graphics are bright without any blur, and the artwork is crisp and stunning in its ability to consistently display so much in super tiny areas. The translation from the Italian was conducted by Jamie Richards.

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Greg Hammond

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