Plutona #2 basically confirms that this miniseries is a coming of age story with just a touch of the superhero genre to create tension in the plot and between the main characters. Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox’s plot is slow moving, but they allow Mie, Teddy, Diane, and Ray to react naturally to seeing the dead body of what is essentially a famous person. The combination of their youthfulness and the immediate horror of being up close to death creates a compelling narrative while colorist Jordie Bellaire orchestrates the mood of the comic as black seeps into her muted rustic palette.
By the end of Plutona #2, readers will truly get to know the main cast of kids and possibly see themselves in one or more of them. Teddy truly shows his passion for Plutona as a hero or icon by telling his friends about her backstory and role in the superhero pantheon of this comic. (The ersatz heroes he talks about are derivative of characters from Marvel’s Avengers and Mark Millar’s Jupiter’s Legacy, but play an important role in revealing Teddy’s breadth of knowledge of about these superheroes.) Emi Lenox’s art continues to breathe life into the teen beginning with her use of inset panels to allow readers to gaze into their souls as they experience death for the first time. After this full page spread, she cuts back a little to show how tiny and beleaguered they are in comparison to the woods around them and Plutona’s body. Lenox also uses extra lines and crosshatching on the kids’ faces to really explore their feelings, such as Diane’s gag reflex to the cynical, world weary (and definitely douchey and trollish) Ray feeling Plutona’s pulse, and Teddy’s angry response to saying that Plutona died of an overdose.
The best character work in Plutona #2 is the most quiet as Lemire and Lenox give readers a glimpse into Teddy, Mie, Diana, and Ray’s home lives through an evening activity montage towards the end of the issue. This sequence really made me more sympathetic towards Ray, who has acted like a real jerk so far, because his panels are almost identical with a black background and the blue colors of the TV lighting up his living room. The one change in his scenes are the addition is more alcohol bottles and cans, and Lenox shows the strained relationship by not including his dad’s face in them. The pages also show how bad the other kids feel about seeing Plutona’s dead body and not telling any adults and authority figures as they settle into a fitful sleep with pained expressions on their faces. And Teddy’s panel lead to this issue’s mysterious cliffhanger, which really amps up the plot’s urgency level.
Plutona #2 is a personal story, and Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox give readers a raw perspective into the lead characters’ thought processes and reactions. They sound and react like scared kids with Ray being more rebellious while Diana is just freaked out and wants to tell her family, and Mie is the inquisitive one. Teddy seems like an earnest and innocent fanboy, but the final pages add intrigue to his character and set up issue 3 for some possible twists and turns. Plutona #2 is a comic about death, and it faces it head-on with Lemire, Lenox, and Bellaire showing the ups and downs of adolescence amplified in the face of tragedy with honest writing, intimate art, and timely colors.