By Jeff Lemire (Author) and Emi Lenox (Illustrator) Image Comics (Publisher)
Review by Maia Bankhead.
Ever since The Death of Superman arc gave comic book writers permission to kill off protagonists, character death has become a bit of a trope, including when writers use some deus ex machina to bring that character back to life. Another trope tied to it is to make a main character disappear and for it to rattle the world. However, in those stories, we see the reactions of the fallen character’s loved ones. Outside of news reports, we never really see the reaction of the general public. Enter Plutona, which follows five kids: Teddy, Diane, Ray, Mie, and Mie’s little brother Mike. Their day starts regularly, with Diane trying to make herself look edgy, Teddy obsessively looking up superhero news, Ray stealing his drunk father’s cigarettes, and Mie arguing with her mom over having to watch Mike. When the five kids stumble into the woods and find the body of the city’s greatest hero Plutona, chaos erupts as they can’t agree on what exactly to do with the knowledge that a superhero is dead. As the story continues, the tension between the kids increases, as the stress of their discovery mixes with typical middle school drama. What makes Plutona special is that at the end of each chapter, there’s a short story about Plutona and her “last adventure,” showing her personal life and her final day. The art style of Emi Lenox, best known for her autobiographical comic EmiTown, when paired with the dull color choices of Jordie Bellaire, makes the series eerie and pessimistic in a Tim Burton-esque way. My one complaint is that the first volume
By Marjorie Liu (Author) and Sana Takeda (Illustrator)
Image Comics (Publisher)
Review by Joe Tell.
Monstress is a unique and imaginative graphic novel that is meant for mature readers. The narrative uses thematic elements of steampunk, horror and fantasy to tell an epic adventure that is set in early 20th century Asia. It’s magical and sexy, full of blood and gore. Marjorie Liu is an award-winning author who is known for her comic book work on the Marvel Comics series Astonishing X-Men, Black Widow and Dark Wolverine. Her work on Monstress is part Western, part manga, crafted like a comic book but paced like a novel. The storyline touches on some political and social subjects – controversial issues such as racism, slavery, feminism and the dehumanizing effects of war. Sana Takeda’s lushly illustrated art is up to the task, establishing the unique setting with excellent character work and a great eye for world building. Set in the magical city of Zamora, Monstress depicts a big, beautiful, terrifying, violent world that is ruled by a coven of murderous witches. The story follows Maika Halfwolf as she is donated out of slavery to a coven of witches who have deadly intentions. Maika is survivor who stops at nothing to come out on top, no matter what the chaotic world she lives in throws her way. In short, Maika is a bad-ass who can kick serious butt even though she only has one hand. Her sidekick, Kippa, is a timid fox child who provides softness and humor, managing to balance out all the rough edges of the main character’s hardened personality. Monstress is a bold and daring graphic novel that is not to be missed.