The wait is finally over, Grimes fans—Kill V. Maim, the epic final chapter in the Art Angels trilogy, is finally here. And, boy, does Claire Boucher deliver. (A fair warning—the following contains spoilers, enthusiastic though they may be.)
What more emotionally resonant opening could Kill V. Maim begin with than a race across the ruined city of Neonopolis? Atop her Doomsday Cruiser, our protagonist Grimes looks out at her childhood home; everything she’s fought so hard to prevent has come to pass. This is, of course, after she’s become a vampire. Oh, she may smile and jape with her brave band of Synth Raiders, but Boucher reveals a fine hand for subtlety in her dialogue here. Inside we can see Grimes’ heart is breaking. But even in all this (admittedly neon-saturated) darkness, hope still shines.
The Ailing King confronts Grimes
All of Grimes’ hardship over the course of this music video series—as diehard fans will know—can be lain at the black, buckle-clad boots of The Ailing King, who appears here early and in full menace. The flu mask-clad villain has tormented Grimes since the beginning, and was personally responsible for infecting the twins Puck and Patch. Their story still tugs at my heart strings—their minds rotted by the illness, their muscles confined to short, jerky movements, the twins are still determined to protect their friend.
The stakes of Kill V. Maim couldn’t be higher: if Grimes can kill The Ailing King before he can infect all of Neonopolis, the city will be saved. Of course, this is hardly an easy task, as she and Valentine Trueshot, her trusted advisor and master archer, will have to fight their way through his legions of Viral Ravers first. In this intense and exhilarating scene, Grimes is pushed to her physical breaking point. She emerges covered in blood, exhausted, but alive—thanks, no doubt, to the training she received from the three-eyed monks of the Vivid Dream.
Valentine Trueshot, taking aim
I admit, the dream sequences which found Grimes wandering through the prison of the underworld were too vague and mysterious for my taste. It felt like Boucher was satisfying some literary impulse, and in doing so strayed from the propulsive pacing of the rest of the series. As we approach the finale, though, this confusing subplot is revealed to be the setting for the final confrontation between Grimes and The Ailing King, with both of them ascended to dark angelhood, as the prophecy in the first installment foretold.
Ultimately, Kill V. Maim concludes the trilogy with an explosive, heartfelt, and inspirational finish. Boucher’s Art Angels series gave a generation of girls a spunky, clever hero to see themselves in, and this final installment is everything it should have been.