“Virtually Yours” is a romantic comedy with a technological twist. The creative team aim to deliver a tale that upends the usual conventions of the genre. Despite this bold mission statement, “Virtually Yours” suffers from under-cooked ideas and pacing issues that not even Beals’ stylish, slick art and a charming characters can entirely make up for.
Editor’s note: Jeremy Holt was briefly a columnist at Multiversity in 2012-2013. That had no bearing on either our decision to review “Virtually Yours,” nor the content of the review, but felt, in the interest of full disclosure, it was important to note.
Written by Jeremy Holt
Illustrated and colored by Elizabeth Beals
Lettered by Adam Wollett
Designed by Tim Daniel
“Virtually Yours” tells the story of Eva and Matt, two adults seeking their next step forward in life. In order to get her overbearing parents off of her back, Eva signs up for Virtually Yours, a service that gives the illusion of a significant other, without any actual commitment. On the other side of the screen is Matt, an ex-child star who has been drifting through a strained marriage for far too long. Despite the non-romantic nature of Virtually Yours, Eva and Matt form an instant connection, leaving the pair of them and the reader wondering what will happen next.
The core premise of “Virtually Yours” is both relevant and interesting. Are your friends and family constantly nagging you when you will procure a significant other? Virtually Yours can provide you with whatever artifice of relationship that you need to get them off of your back! How would such a service work? What effect would it have on people who use it? What about the people who run it? “Virtually Yours” takes a good portion of the comic setting up exactly that premise. The reader is introduced to Eva and Matt, and they begin engaging with their respective ends of the service – Eva the user, looking to appease her family with a new boyfriend, and Matt the provider, seeking a change from the monotony of his current life. We see Matt fulfilling his duties, sending flowers or tender voice messages to clients when they request them. Eva uses her new virtual boyfriend to cool a stewing family dinner confrontation.
Disappointingly, there are a number of underdeveloped ideas that limit the success of this setup. The most notable of these is Matt’s troubled marriage. His relationship with his wife forms a core motivation for a number of actions throughout “Virtually Yours”, but the reader is only given a handful of minute glimpses into these troubles. The dire manner in which his marriage is constantly described smacks as hyperbolic for what we are shown in the pages of the comic itself. That such a central aspect of Matt’s character is not given the proper time to show itself organically hinders its impact in the story as a whole.
Organic development of the story is further hindered by pacing issues, particularly in the latter half of “Virtually Yours”. While the creators spent pages establishing every aspect of the world of the comic, it felt like the reader was being yanked along with the story towards an ending that was over far quicker than felt comfortable. A notable sequence featuring aquatic life was inserted simply to set up a reference in the following scene, where it would have been more effective as earlier character development which that would be cleverly called back to. A wrap-up scene that should have been at least a page of showing the characters’ final feelings and thoughts was instead one panel of Eva and Max spouting resolution at each other. While it was still very readable, some more care and space in the latter half of “Virtually Yours” would have made it more emotionally impactful.
Overly wordy moments in “Virtually Yours” also detract from the comic because Elizabeth Beals’ stylish, highly detailed art is a joy to take in. All of her character designs are eye-catching and meticulously crafted, from wardrobe to hairstyle to makeup. She gives life to every location the characters visit. Her use of body language and expressions help add depth to characters where the writing may have missed an opportunity or two. Apart from one panel where there wasn’t quite enough space, forcing letterer Adam Wollett to order the bubbles in a way that wasn’t natural, Beals allowed Wollett to bring the words to the page clearly. When the story drags the reader along, the art serves as a cushion to make the trip easier. Eva, Matt, and their companions would be far less lovable were it not for the care Beals shows in bringing them and the world around them to life.Continued below
It is the charm of these characters that is the final strength of “Virtually Yours”. Each of the characters in the book are relatable and add color and heart to the story. Eva and Matt are well fleshed-out, apart from Matt’s weaker backstory. Their respective best friends, Katie and Patrick, bring caring and reliable friendships to the lead pair. Even smaller side characters like Raoul are unique and interesting. In a romance book, individualistic characters give the readers something different, and the characters of “Virtually Yours” are highly engaging.
Like its protagonists, “Virtually Yours” is not flawless. Some concepts and plot elements needed more thought to them and the pacing is erratic, particularly towards the end. However, there is still a lot to like about it. Elizabeth Beal’s art carries the book harder than it should have to, and readers will want to find out what happens to the people that they meet in the story. If you already have comiXology Unlimited, “Virtually Yours” delivers an entertaining romp that you don’t have to pay for, and is worth a read.