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‘Romance Double Feature’ Is the Antidote to Your Valentine’s Day Love Hangover

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been taking a look at some of the more horrifying heartbreaks in classic romance comics, so believe me when I say that on Valentine’s Day, my faith in love (or at least love in comics) was at an all-time low. Fortunately, there was an antidote. The latest issue of the Double Feature digital comic was an all-Romance issue, and after 16 pages of stories that did it wrong, it was pretty refreshing to see a romance book that got it right.If you’re not familiar with Double Feature, it’s one of my favorite digital comics, if only for how it’s one of the few books that takes full advantage of the digital format. As the name implies, each issue has two eight-page stories, and for 99¢, you can either get it in DRM-free PDF format that you can review on any device you want, or you can go through the iPad app and get a version tricked out with bonus commentary and the ability to strip down the art to colors, inks and pencils.

It’s a pretty awesome package, and it’s only made moreso by the talented folks involved, including Hack/Slash‘s Tim Seeley, Mike Norton, Corinna Bechko, Gabriel Hardman and others, working in issues themed around horror, action, sci-fi and, of course, Romance.

Which brings us to the latest issue, and two sharp stories from both the good and the bad side of love. The first is “In Other Words,” by J. Torres and CA favorite Evan “Doc” Shaner:

Set at a wedding reception in 1967 — which gives Shaner the chance to indulge in Rat Pack fashions and goofy bridesmaid dresses — “In Other Words” tells the story of a grumpy bridesmaid and an acid-tongued bartender who form a quick attraction based on their love of trading barbs over drinks.

True to its title, it’s a story with a lot of talking, with Torres building a constant stream of patter that echoes the dialogue in a romantic comedy from the ’60s. It’s clever and witty, and when you throw in Shaner’s clean, expressive art, watching two people meeting and falling in love through a eight pages of rapid-fire verbal sparring is just fun.

But while “In Other Words” shows the beginning of a relationship, the second story, “Two Wheels, Two Feet” shows the end:

In eight pages, writer Jamie S. Rich and artist Megan Levens offer up a heartbreaker in the grand tradition, but instead of the melodramatic sob stories I waded through for “Love Hurts,” theirs is a breakup with a clever twist.

Rich’s story is based on the idea of finding a message that could be for anyone, and realizing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s definitely for you. It becomes a sad story of the end of a romance, but there’s an underlying message that yeah, it’s probably for the best that it ends. What really sells it, though, is Leven’s art. More than anything else, it reminds me of work by Jamie McKelvie, and the body language and facial expressions sell the premise perfectly.

It’s another great issue from Double Feature, with the added bonus of being the perfect antidote for that lingering post-Valentine’s Day romance hangover. Check it out at the DF website, and poke around the others while you’re there — it’s easily one of the best values in comics, and exactly what digital books need.

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