This volume went in all sorts of directions I wasn’t expecting! I hadn’t been made this emotional by a book in months! Seriously, I’m just giving this all the stars because I was bouncing around in my seat, bursting with so many different emotions while reading: sad, happy, worried, excited, heartbroken, swooning—I was all over the place! This comic doesn’t even have words, and I freaking cried. It was so not what I was expecting after the first volume, which was basically a silly steampunk porno.
But before I get there, I’ve a few things to mention. First of all, this book is named “Isabelle & George” but, in my opinion, it was mostly about Robert. I mean it—if you didn’t love Vol. 1 but did love Robert and are wondering whether or not to read this one, READ IT. Second, it’s meant to be (and definitely should be) read after Chester 5000 XYV Vol. 1 since it functions like a prequel and a sequel; the timeline got confusing for a few pages when it was transitioning over the events of Vol. 1, but, on the artist’s site, she explains in the notes (the part after “6 months later” takes place during Vol. 1, and the part after “3 weeks later” takes place after Vol. 1). Third, this one was significantly less porn and more story (though still some porn, so do expect some explicit pages). Fourth, something great about both these books is how they they’re inclusive of so many different sexual pairings (M/F, M/M, F/F/M, M/M/F, solo M, solo F, hell, one character is a robot, so toss an R in there somewhere too).
But what really took me by surprise wasn’t any of that, it was how much emotion and depth and even plot there was. This added a lot of depth to the characters by showing us the backstory for them and for all the events in Vol. 1, and it made me sympathize with everyone more. In Vol. 1, Priscilla seemed like all she wanted was sex all the time, whereas in this one, I could understand why she wasn’t satisfied with Robert. In Vol. 1, Robert was mostly portrayed as an unhappy workaholic, whereas in this one, it was nice to see a side of him that was happier and more carefree at times, but I also felt bad for him because of all the pressure he was under at work and because of his sexuality crisis. *SPOILER* I WAS SHIPPING ROBERT AND GEORGE SO HARD. I literally said, “Awwwwww!” out loud when they finally kissed. Even though I probably shouldn’t have since they were both cheating on their wives. Oops. But guys, they were just so adorable (and fictional) that I couldn’t bring myself to care, as bad as that sounds. *END SPOILER*
And then, ugh, I knew what was coming because of Vol. 1, but it still hit me in the feels. I literally had like three whole tears fall down my face, which, for me, is a lot since I don’t cry from books. And then I felt even worse for Robert and understood why he pushed Priscilla away. But actually, the artist did a good job of showing the grief/loneliness/emotion of all the different characters for their various different reasons. But then all the sudden, when it got to the part that took place after Vol. 1, more things started happening, and I was totally on the edge of my seat wondering where the story would go. THERE WAS EVEN MURDER. Well, not really, but kinda. Maybe, actually. *SPOILER* Also, George was fucking badass. But also a lovable sweetheart. No wonder both Isabelle and Robert fell for him. And he totally looked like a pirate in that one panel with his eye patch and missing arm and the way he was drinking alcohol straight from the bottle, which isn’t really relevant but is something I felt like mentioning nonetheless. *END SPOILER*
Also, I felt kinda unsure about the ending of the first book *SPOILER (for Volume 1)* because I thought it might’ve been better for Robert and Priscilla to work things out, but this made it even more clear that they weren’t right for each other, *END SPOILER* and the ending of this one made me feel so much happier about how things turned out.
One last thing, I think it’s so neat how the artist was able to convey so much without using any dialogue. I was a little unclear on the details of some of the more complex things (like the contract that was signed), but it all made sense eventually, and the thoughts/feelings of the characters were always so clear. The lack of words forced me to focus more on the drawings, and the author really used the visual medium to her advantage since there was no dialogue to rely on. And I totally found myself making up my own dialogue in my head sometimes lol.
So yeah, this is a little gem of a comic, and I’ve already bought myself a physical copy because that’s just how much I loved the characters and story and artwork. Overall, this was maybe a little silly and not particularly realistic but still emotional and sweet and fun and beautifully illustrated in a stylistic kind of way and I ADORED it!
*Note: The artwork in the physical copy is black and white rather than purple-ish.*
Fans of Volume 1 in Jess Fink's Chester 5000 XYV series. Anyone who wants a story that's a little silly, a lot erotic, but ultimately emotional, fun, and sweet. Anyone who wants to try something that is like a comic, steampunk, silent film, and porn all rolled into one.