Black Hole - Charles Burns 

ission. Describing its horrors would be one thing; to see them takes it to another level.

Burns' book is set in the mid-Seventies of Seattle, following a few select high school students ruled by their hormones. In Burns' hands, however, there's a twist: The sexually transmitted diseases of the day go way beyond open sores "? they result in deformities, from facial scales and neck bumps to ghoulish faces and more extreme mutations.

There are many more of the diseased, the worst cases dropping out of society and living in the wild. And that's where things grow really weird, not to mention fatal.

"Black Hole" disturbs on such a primal level, and yet you can't look away. The story is so compelling, the mystery so deep, that the author has you hooked. The closest point of comparison would be the films of David Cronenberg, which tell intelligent tales while treading the realm of the visceral.

Hey, at least here, it's not in color. Burns is noted for his bold, distinct style, one which actually works better in black-and-white panels. Here are 368 pages of them that I did not want to end "? unflinching and grotesque, while lyrical and poetic.

"?Rod Lott

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