Warning: Mature readers only.

tek's rating: ½

Sky Doll, Marvel/Soleil
written & illustrated by Alessandro Barbucci & Barbara Canepa
GCD; Marvel; Marvel Database; TV Tropes; Wikipedia

Caution: Spoilers.

Well. This is a French comic book, made by some of the people who worked on The "W.I.T.C.H." comic (which became an animated series that I quite liked). But Sky Doll is more mature than that (read: contains nudity). Anyway, Marvel Comics collaborated with the French publisher, Soleil, to make an English translation. (They're actually doing this with a number of European comics, but at the moment I'm not sure if I'll bother picking up any of the other series they're importing.)

The story is set... well, I guess it's the future or whatever. It's pretty weird. There are any number of different planets, and while there are plenty of people who look like different species, I think everyone is considered human. Not sure I ever saw any characters who looked particularly human to me, but whatever, it's not important. Anyway, the story starts with a sky doll named Noa. Sky dolls are female androids, mostly used for sexual purposes by their owners. Owners possess a key which is used to wind up their dolls; without being wound regularly, the dolls simply shut down. And I guess their memories get wiped fairly often. Anyway, Noa and a number of other sky dolls work at a spaceship wash called "Heaven." Noa isn't happy there, but the other dolls say that it's better than the last place they worked, "Vampire Vixens." Oh, I should also mention there are these rodent creatures called skropes, and Noa has a pet skrope named Elianthe.

Meanwhile, there are these two emissaries, Roy and Jahu, who are on their way to the planet Aqua, on a mission for Papess Lodovica. Um... at some point in the past the planet Papathea had two papesses, Lodovica (who represents the carnal side of their religion) and Agape (who represented the spiritual side of the religion, not that her iconography is likely to be fully clothed). But Agape was defrocked and disappeared (though it seems as if Lodovica may have had her killed). Lodovica is in firm control of the planet, but she wants to expand her empire. Um... popularity is important, so she appears on TV a lot, with special effects created by her "Miracle Genie," who is her lover. I guess she loves him, but he loves Agape, who he hopes will one day return. There are also plenty of Agape followers out there, despite the fact that such things are illegal now. She'd like to stamp them out, but they cause her some problems.

Noa meets Roy and Jahu at the astrowash, and later on, they find that she (and Elianthe) have stowed away on their ship. And it turns out that her former owner was murdered. (It was never clear to me whether Noa was responsible for this or not, but she certainly seems to have no knowledge of it.) And um... it soon becomes apparent that Noa has some repressed memories, which connect her to both Agape and the Miracle Genie. Anyway, she ends up causing some trouble for Roy and Jahu. Jahu doesn't seem to like her, he's very gruff and whatnot. But Roy soon bonds with her. Anyway, they all go to Aqua together on the mission. And... there's some plot point about "three elements," which I didn't follow very well. I kind of thought the first element was within Noa, or something, but maybe it was Elianthe. I guess. Anyway, the planet Aqua is populated entirely by women, identical clones whose religion stresses individuality, ironically. They're led by a spiritual guru named Gaia. Roy and Jahu have been sent to convert the Aquarians to Lodovica's religion.

To enter the world of Aqua, the three of them have to go into a trance, which Roy and Noa do without difficulty, but Jahu can't. So Roy and Noa meet Gaia and begin to learn about Aqua and its religion. Which isn't quite what they expected. Anyway, it later turns out that Gaia is given to understand that Lodovica sent Noa to her as a gift. Which is something I don't really get, how Lodovica even would've known about Noa, unless Jahu secretly told her. Which I suppose is likely. He seems to be much more loyal to her than Roy is. In fact, he's been sent on a mission that even Roy doesn't know about, and finally Jahu enters a trancelike state by taking a pill, so he can achieve his objective. Meanwhile, Elianthe leads Noa in a dreamlike vision, toward the second element, the "sacred fish," which is located here on Aqua, and is the key to the survival of the Aquarians. As Noa is ingesting it, Jahu shows up and destroys it, per Lodovica's orders. To exterminate the Aquarian "heretics," rather than convert them. Then, the three of them are attacked by guard robots, and manage to escape partly due to help from Elianthe, who I guess dies, though I didn't realize that at the time. Not until I read the recap in the next issue, which says the skrope died and later came back to life. Sigh. (The recap is also where I learned that Elianthe was the first element.)

Meanwhile, back on Papathea, Lodovica is attacked by followers of Agape. And Noa, Roy, and Jahu head back home, to be special guests on a TV show hosted by Frida Decibel, whose show has been seen throughout the series with news about Lodovica and whatnot. Anyway, the three "heroes" are not particularly happy at this point. Roy has become totally cynical, and I think Jahu regrets his actions, mostly because of how they affected Roy. And there's a holy war going on now, Lodovica's control is slipping, so she's hoping for the TV special about the Aqua mission to bolster the public's support of her. Though Roy (after getting closer to Noa, thus getting him out of his cynicism and depression) plans to say some things on the show that definitely wouldn't help Lodovica. However, he doesn't really get a chance. In frustration, he and Jahu are about to storm off, but then Frida's daughter, Cleopatra, dances on the show. She has a connection to Jahu, sort of, which I don't want to reveal.

There are hooded followers of Agape who are looking for Noa, wanting to awaken her repressed memories. But she isn't sure what she wants... the past she doesn't remember could interfere with the new future that lies ahead of her. And the TV studio is attacked by Agapians. Which is ironic. And... later Noa has a talk with Cleopatra, which I guess helps her decide what it is she wants to do. And... in the end, Roy, Jahu, Noa, and Cleopatra all escape in Roy and Jahu's ship. Tagging along is an Aquarian who acts as Cleopatra's strict guardian. And um... I guess everyone's happy to be free to choose their own path, though Noa still seems uncertain.

I don't really know. I liked the story, and I liked the art. It was all fairly weird, and intriguing, and there's plenty of humor along with the drama. But a great deal of the time I didn't follow everything that was going on. There's alot that still doesn't make sense to me. Some minor characters or groups that I never got a handle on. And I don't think the third element was ever revealed. And I'm not completely clear on Noa's connection to Agape, though I've rather more than an inkling. And the way Lodovica was left off looks bad, but inconclusive, I thought. And the ending just seemed too abrupt to me, left too much unresolved, too much unexplained. There are three volumes so far, and I guess a fourth may be in development, but if it hasn't been published yet in Europe, I certainly have no idea when or if it will ever be published in the U.S. Still, if and when it does show up here, I'd be happy to get it, and learn more about everything that's going on....

Doll's Factory
Marvel; Marvel Database

After the original 3 issue miniseries, there was a 2 issue miniseries, which serves as a prequel. The first issue shows how Noa was created, sort of, and ends with her taking the job she had at Heaven spaceship wash, at the start of the first series. But the story is at least as murky as the original, it doesn't really explain anything, I felt. What's more, it only takes up the issue's first 10 pages; most of the issue is a "making of," basically sketches from the first issue of the original series, which didn't really interest me, having already read the finished product. I liked the second "Doll's Factory" better, though. It starts with an interview with Alessandro Barbucci & Barbara Canepa. Then there's some cool concept art for various characters from the series, followed by a few amusing vignettes that introduce us to several sky dolls who work at Heaven. The issue concludes with a gallery of cool fanart. So that was definitely worth picking up, but I still look forward to seeing the main story continued....

Spaceship Collection
GCD; Marvel; Marvel Database

Two issues, each with three stories. The six stories were all done by different artists who had basically been brought in to have some fun playing with the world of Sky Doll. We get glimpses of Noa's life, which was interesting and amusing, and of course the artwork is always sexy, and it's fun to see different styles of drawing the familiar characters and whatnot. The end of each issue has some notes and extra art from the guest artists. So, it's nice, but like I said with Doll's Factory, I'm still more interested in seeing the story continued, rather than all these flashbacks.

Lacrima Christi Collection
GCD; Marvel; Marvel Database

Same deal as the Spaceship Collection: 6 different artists telling their stories, in 2 issues. This time we get to see stories about Papesses Lodovica and Agape. Interesting stuff, and as always, sexy art. I don't so much mind getting these flashbacks, since there isn't enough about the papesses' backstories in the main series, and this helps illuminate the characters somewhat. But I'm still waiting for the main series to resume....

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