A second chance awaits!
1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew
Events must occur on these premises.
Imagine finding this note scribbled inside of your dresser drawer. How would you react? Do the words entice you to give it a whirl, or do you fear the repercussions that may occur? In the case of Katie, the protagonist in Seconds, caution is most certainly thrown to the wind.
The latest graphic novel from Bryan Lee O'Malley (Scott Pilgrim series, Lost At Sea) Seconds follows Katie, a successful chef who runs a popular restaurant and is about to break ground on a second one. Things are going okay in her life, but one thing after another is tossed her way, making her world more frustrating than it should be. One night she comes across a tiny box that appears in her dresser, and inside is a notepad, a mushroom, and careful instructions as to how the newfound magic works.
"Hesitation" does not appear in Katie's vocabulary, it seems, and decides to write off one mistake involving an accident with waitress Hazel. The next day she wakes up to find that Hazel is okay, and that her injuries from the previous night are nonexistent. Things seem pretty normal, until Katie catches Hazel doing her nightly routine in the restaurant. She speaks of a house spirit, which Katie just write off as mere superstition. That is, until a mysterious girl named Lis appears on her dresser.
Lis warns Katie to never use the notebooks and mushrooms again, as a person only gets one turn to try it out. Of course this warning is brushed aside, as Katie tries to fix all her screw-ups to make things for the better. At first her life makes a turn for the better, but soon one erased error creates a new one, to the point where Katie starts to lose track of what was her real reality and her fixer upper one. As the deeper scars of her life start to become nonexistent, one question remains: if everything happens for a reason, why would you want to go back and fix it?
Seconds is a coming-of-age story that will ring true to many of the millennials in the world, especially those who feel trapped by the issues that plague their real-life surroundings. O'Malley has a talent of showing off the what-if scenarios in the case of second chances occurring, playing to the pros and cons of the situations with a colorful glee. It's also fortunate that his trademark humor is fully intact here, and while it may not reach the same heights as his previous award-winning series there will be plenty of moments that will surely have you laughing out loud. (Katie arguing with the narrator brought to mind the same silliness seen in the anime Hayate The Combat Butler! and, for mainstream purposes, the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.)
It's when O'Malley takes Katie deeper into fixing her past mistakes that the real backbone of the story comes into fruition. Mending her relationship with Max gives way to issues regarding her dream restaurant, whereas deleting an entire affair from her past causes creatures from the underworld to appear to make things feel more awkward than they should be. One erased error practically takes her last four years out of the equation, leading to something lurking in the darkness to rear its ugly head.
The world surrounding Katie and her friends is also bright and beautiful, thanks in part to the fact that this is the first time we've seen one of O'Malley's works fully in color (outside of the reissued Scott Pilgrim series). The characters, especially Lis and Katie's replacement Andrew, look lively, with their personalities and attitudes shining through throughout the story. There's even a nicely-drawn fight sequence involving Lis, Katie, and another being that I don't want to spoil here that vibes with a boss battle mentality, giving way to a climax that more calming than ass-kicking.
Seconds is a true lesson on life and how to live it cleverly disguised as a funny graphic novel. While it doesn't have evil exes trying to kill our protagonist at every corner or a cat with a captured soul, its tale of caution is both wonderfully entertaining and brimming with twenty-something energy on every page. Consume O'Malley's latest work at once, and worry not about the consequences that may follow.