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The Hive (2012)

by Charles Burns

Series: Last Look (2)

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2529104,605 (3.88)3
Confessing his past to an unidentified woman, Doug struggles to recall the mysterious incident that left his life shattered, an incident that may have involved his disturbed and now-absent girlfriend, Sarah, and her menacing ex-boyfriend.
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English (7)  Dutch (2)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This 2012 second volume of Charles Burns' Last Look graphic novel trilogy does little to unravel the enigmas set up in the first, but adds some layers of detail. The TinTin references from X-ed Out are supplemented with another mise-en-abyme using old girl's romance comics. These become the center of a quest for Doug, as he tries to procure them for (reminiscence) Sarah and (hive world) Suzy. Doug's drug issues seem to have been a perverse inheritance, as his recollections show him and Sarah experimenting with his dad's stash of pharmaceutical opiates. In the hive world, Doug has been placed in a servile job by his cranky dwarfish psychopomp.

Between reading X-ed Out and The Hive, I caught an opening weekend showing of Miyazaki's The Boy and the Heron. Strangely, the film features many motifs and themes present in the Last Look, including the viewpoint character with a visible head injury, aggressively disorienting portal fantasy, and explorations of the archetypal feminine. It would be surprising if Miyazaki were influenced by Burns, but it's not impossible, I suppose.
  paradoxosalpha | Dec 12, 2023 |
The Hive is the second installment of Charles Burns horror graphic novel that started with vol. 1, X'ed Out. The story follows Nitnit (Get it? You will.) through his "real" life and a dream or fantasy life he cannot control. I'm not going to pretend that I know what is going on but when Nitnit dreams his way into following his cat through the hole in the bedroom wall, his world changes forever into a bizarre world of sewage, strange sentient and semi-sentient creatures, in a MIddle Eastern looking milieu. The other half of the story follows his "real" life either through real time or flashbacks (it's not always certain). He ages, his father dies, he changes girlfriends but in his opiate addled state (he's an addict to pain pills he got from his father when he died, but he's gonna run out soon.), it's not quite certain what is real, flashback, or dream. Eggs seem to play a big role.

The art is pure Tintin (Get it now?) and Nitnit's "mask" alter ego is suspiciously like a Tintin clone.

If you are a fan of original graphic novels and non-traditional comic artwork you will enjoy this bizarre comic. ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
Returning to the surreal universe first experienced in 2010's [b:X'ed|7814774|X'ed Out|Charles Burns|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320509423s/7814774.jpg|10836913], Burns, creator of [b:Black Hole|38333|Black Hole|Charles Burns|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327895219s/38333.jpg|2283546] and famed contributor to the legendary anthology series Raw, expertly reveals more of Doug's intriguing story in The Hive. As with the previous, the beautifully disturbing, non-linear tale leaps effortlessly between the real and unreal. Though in this installment, the lines further blur as elements from the bizarrely apocalyptic reality and the "normal" collide. Inspired equally by the works of Hergé and William Burroughs, Burns once again provides one of the best graphic novels of the year. ( )
  rickklaw | Oct 13, 2017 |
This is the second volume of what I believe is intended to be a trilogy of short graphic novels. What I wrote about the first installment remains true of this one as well:

"A short graphic novel, the first installment of a trilogy. One cannot fully judge the merits of this volume when the other two come out. In many places, it is an elliptical, dreamlike tease. If the future volumes do more to tie all of this together, then this might be the beginning of a brilliant graphic novel. If not, then I would be somewhat disappointed."

This novel brings somewhat more depth to the characters relationships, somewhat more perspective on the alien world he ends up in, and another cliffhanger ending--that is just enough to keep me waiting another two years, which was the length of time between installments 1 and 2 in this novel. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
'The hive' is part 2 of the 'X'ed out' series by Charles Burns and if you wanted the same level of WEIRD! as the first installment, then you've got it. Burns is a genius. Reading his books is like having a dream... none of the parts seem to fit together, yet a story is definitely being told. And once you are finished reading, it is really hard to remember what actually happened. ( )
  clstaff | Jul 24, 2013 |
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Confessing his past to an unidentified woman, Doug struggles to recall the mysterious incident that left his life shattered, an incident that may have involved his disturbed and now-absent girlfriend, Sarah, and her menacing ex-boyfriend.

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