Review by Frank Plowright
Having waited eight years to produce a sequel to 1983’s Click!, only three years separated the second book and this further exploration of a device that controls sexual desire. The comparative haste was strange, not least because there were definite perfunctory elements to the second book.
That doesn’t apply here, but at first neither does there appear to be much in the way of a coherent story as Milo Manara flits from one sexual fantasy to the next. A story eventually develops from the seemingly random events covering the book’s first half. It’s presumably for commercial purposes that this is part of the Click! series as the participation of Claudia from earlier books is forced. The events of those are seemingly forgotten other than her television career remaining intact, and she’s now with a cameraman somewhere in the Amazon investigating the sexual practices of a cult leader. The clicking element only comes into play right at the end.
Before that we have plenty of half and fully naked women draped over furniture and indulging themselves however they see fit, a good series of jokes regarding a priapic rescuer, and the thorny issue of how far graphic abuse of a woman is acceptable in story terms. Manara portrays the victim as almost playful in their resistance, but in plot terms it’s entirely gratuitous as its original purpose has no further bearing, and its eventual purpose and the involvement of Claudia could have been staged in numerous other ways. The scene also establishes the villain of the piece, and any thought of establishing character being justification for what he does is rapidly erased by what’s essentially a trivial narrative designed to accentuate the erotic. Within the bounds of the law, people’s sexual preferences are their own affair, but what’s depicted in the opening pages is assault and abuse, and very unsavoury.
As with the previous book, anyone not entirely mesmerised by the variations of sex on offer, will notice gaping holes in the plot. For instance, by his recollection, the man seen abusing the woman in the opening sequence to activate her clairvoyancy has packed a hell of a lot into a few short hours by the time he again encounters Claudia.
The real wonder of the book is Manara’s stunning art. The exotic Amazon setting provides lush backgrounds to accompany his lush figures, and the strong capricious streak that’s always manifested in his work is represented by a cult occupying an edifice designed as a great snail’s shell. Externally at least this haven for hedonism looks glorious.
This volume is long out of print, but included in the hardcover Click! 1-3. Since that’s now also out of print and very expensive, although in black and white this is better purchased as the first hardcover volume of Manara Erotica. Kim Thompson’s translation improves on this version, and that book also incorporates the three other Click! graphic novels.