In the immortal (at least by my admittedly inexpert estimation) words of the just-recently-reemerged Roland Orzabal, “Don’t you just love a happy ending? Yeah, well so do I.” And if I may add a caveat of my own to that lyric : I especially love them when they’re earned.
And if there’s anyone who has earned one, it’s our titular Acid Nun herself, Annie, who’s travelled through every level of cosmic hell and then some in her search for reunification with cohorts/lovers Elinore and (yes, that) Baphomet, and in many ways the worst is yet to come in the pages of the newly-self-published Acid Nun #3 — but so, thankfully, is delicious comeuppance and joyous homecoming. I know, I know — sic the spoiler police on me.
Still, in my defense, I’ll say that I’m deliberately treading lightly here in terms of specific plot details, and really the plot’s never been a complex affair in Halbert’s now-concluded trilogy anyway — its themes, however, certainly are, given that they revolve around abuse, alienation, longing, self-acceptance and self-love, and even (to the consternation of some, I’m sure) the “big two” of sex and death. Primarily, though, I think Halbet’s principal concern — one filtered through her own utterly unique view of various pagan and pagan-adjacent magickal traditions (most especially, this time out, the tarot) and genuinely decadent blend of the sexual and the psychedelic — is exploring what it really means to be your own, authentic self, and to make your metaphorical home within that inviolable sphere that you create.
Talking of home — they do say that’s where the heart is, and in Halbert’s case that means it’s right here in these pages. She mentions in her afterword (by the way, the “bonus” material here also includes stunning pin-up artwork by Haleigh Buck, Katie Skelly, and Dead Meat Design) that she put her all into this project, but with all due respect, there was no need to say so : the proof was there in every layout, ever line, every design, and certainly in every color choice. This has been one of the most visually arresting comics in recent memory from the outset, and the degree to which Halbert has seen each sumptuously-rendered page as a challenge to herself to keeping upping the creative ante is equal parts obvious and awe-inspiring. Flipping back through the first two issues in preparation for reading this finale was literally a process of charting and mapping one artist’s growth (both in terms of technique and, more importantly, confidence) right in plain sight.
I know, I know, I’m gushing like a fanboy, but my goodness, just look at the pages included with this review that I lazily (but legally) purloined from Halbert’s own website — is there any reason why I shouldn’t be? The care and craft that went into creating these images, these characters, this universe is really something to behold, as well as something to treasure. Sure, there is plenty on offer both in this issue specifically and in this series as a whole that will challenge and perhaps upset (before ultimately rewarding, I promise) survivors of awful shit and send the prudish and uptight to the medicine cabinet for a suppository, but most worthwhile art prods, protests, and provokes as a matter of course. Halbert has plenty to say about patriarchy, repression, subjugation, intolerance, and other oppressive forces — but in the end, she beats them all with love. For her story, for her characters, for her art, for her readers (yes, that means you) and, above all, for herself.
“And all your love will shine for everyone” seems the apropos thing to say at this juncture, just to bring things back to where we started this review. Halbert’s love is shining for everyone in this comic, so go on and be good to yourself. Buy it, read it, and love it right back.
Acid Nun #3 is available for $12 directly from Corinne Halbert at https://corinnehalbert.bigcartel.com/product/acid-nun-no-3
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