Review by Ian Keogh
Spoilers in review
Lily has secrets. Some are those she maintains herself, and some are secrets about her that she doesn’t know. She knows something’s up, otherwise why would her father be on the run with her, moving from city to city? But as to why they do that, she’s not been given a straight answer. That she never becomes ill her father knows, but does he know that she’s unable to be killed by conventional means, or her other secret? That other secret is revealed relatively early, so it’s not a spoiler to mention that Lily is a shapeshifter, and in order to become closer to a girl at her new high school she adopts the identity of a teenage boy. It complicates her life, but also in some respects frees her for the first time. Instead of being the nerdy new girl she’s accepted as Jesse because he/she’s good at basketball and makes the team.
Jennie Wood dedicates Flutter to anyone uncomfortable in their own skin, and while at first it’s the thriller style mysteries that captivate, eventually they just become a means to an end. They dress up Lily’s uncertainties and anger, both those experienced by most teenagers and those peculiar to her own situation. Wood’s excellent at bringing out Lily’s feelings of alienation and isolation, yet still providing a sympathetic person we care about as they metaphorically thrash about. This doesn’t apply to all the supporting cast. Lily’s perennially out of his depth father comes across well, as does the unfortunate Penelope, desperate to escape her brutal police officer father, but Saffron, the object of Lily’s desire never transcends that role to become a character in her own right. Once we’ve come to accept the high school situation as it is, Wood twists matters beautifully, introducing a whole new set of complications and opportunities for Lily to be revealed.
At first Jeff McComsey’s art might not hit the spot. The linework is still evolving, although there’s a strong sense of storytelling from the start, but the initial revelation about Lily/Jesse doesn’t have quite impact it should because McComsey’s not the best at differentiating his characters. It’s a weakness he’s aware of, as most of the cast are designed to be as different as Rupaul and Donald Trump, but some story elements make this impossible. Nor is he the best at keeping characters consistent. Weighed against that is that his art evolves a self-contained world, a unique colour sense helping with that.
Flutter continues over two further volumes, or alternatively all three are combined as The Flutter Collection, and there’s more than enough plot and depth here to warrant that. Observant and humane, Wood and McComsey absorb us into Lily’s world, and we want to know more.