The finale of Plutona’s five issue run is understandably dark, but then again, that’s basically the only place this remarkable series could go. The most interesting parts of this book have always been the relationships between the gang of teen and pre-teen characters who discover a dead superhero in the woods. From there, kid logic is followed, and for a while it’s fun and absorbing. But as with all extensions of kid logic, eventually the cold, hard truth of the real world has to rise up and demand to be noticed. In the great battle of adult reality vs children’s reality, adult reality always wins. It isn’t fair, and sure isn’t nice, but that’s the way the world works, and that’s where Plutona finally ends.
In the previous issue, we learned that Teddy, one of the roughest of the kids, has been cutting himself and mingling his blood with that of the dead superhero, Plutona herself. Kid logic tells him that this should obviously invest him with the same powers as Plutona, and Mie’s younger brother is also taken by this notion. Mie and Ray discover them in the woods in the process of cutting and bleeding, and in the scuffle, Ray winds up with the knife they’ve been using to cut themselves and the dead hero buried in his chest. Kid logic 0, real physics 1. This fifth and final issue picks up exactly where the previous one left off, and aside from one interesting twist (no spoilers), kid logic’s losing streak continues.
The final issue simply refuses to look away. We see, in horrifying detail, Teddy’s wounds and his commitment to kid logic, no matter how much reality continues to assert itself. It’s fairly horrifying to watch a child slowly bleed out but at the same time insist that he can’t die because he has “super powers”. What happens to Teddy, and the reaction of the other kids to it, forms the bulk of what happens in this issue, with one interesting exception. Without revealing details, this message of this other event happens to be that even when kid logic is right, it’s not useful. Kid logic won’t save your life.
Taken in its entirety, Plutona is a wonderful evocation of the true spirit of kids who believe in superheroes. The interaction between the children is rich and true, as is the way they respond to the world. Even at the end, the way they all react to the shocking and tragic events are thoroughly in character. Plutona deftly skates past cliche and instead shows what might really happen if childhood friends found a body in the woods. Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox don’t need Stephen King’s supernatural mysticism (a la It) or Brian K. Vaughan’s elaborate world-building (so well done in Paper Girls) to give us comedy, tragedy, adventure and horror, all seen through the eyes of children who are realistic and natural, committed to the logic of their reality, even as it leads them inevitably towards a dark, quiet ending.