Comic Book Review – Man-eaters #1 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I picked up the first issue of the new Image Comics series Man-eaters, written by Chelsea Cain with art by Kate Niemczyk, colours by Rachelle Rosenberg, and letters by Joe Caramagna.

A young girl, Maude, introduces us to her dad as he heads off to work as a police officer. He’s investigating a particularly gruesome homicide, which turns out to be perpetrated by a cat. Not an ordinarily cat though, instead suspicion falls on any number of adolescent girls in the area who, infected by a mutant strain of toxoplasmosis, can transform into cat-like monsters who violently attack and kill anyone nearby. This change is brought on during the onset of menses, which the government tightly suppress through hormone therapy in the water. But it isn’t effective in everyone, and Maude has just got her first period.

This first issue is a lot of set up, from the principle cast to the task force that has been set up to deal with the ‘cat’ problem, with the background laid down for the status quo of the world. The series appears to owe a lot of its DNA to Kelly Sue Deconnick and Val De Landro’s Bitch Planet (its no coincidence that Maude has a Bitch Planet poster on her wall), but what I found interesting is that the direction of the series moving forward is likely best indicated by the back matter rather than the bulk of the issue. While the always relevant ‘fuck the patriarchy’ angle to the story is hinted at in the plot, it is resolved much more clearly through the propaganda in the pages following the comic, where the warnings for men and boys for cat attacks or girlfriends who may be cats are clear, despite the issue indicating that anyone can be the victim of a cat attack, especially close family members. It casts Man-eater in a much clearer light, and I expect subsequent issues to focus in on that aspect a little more, drawing on the male fear and confusion of female biology and strength. In this first issue, Cain sets up the plot well and draws a compelling character in Maude, and the simplicity of the final reveal sets the forward momentum up for the series.

Art by Niemczyk, Rosenberg, and Caramagna (Image Comics)

Niemczyk’s pencils and inks use bold lines for well defined character work, that overall is reminiscent of Tank Girl or Kim and Kim. Reteaming with Cain after they worked on Mockingbird together, there is some gruesome art here that shines through, but there are choices with layout and flow that feels very modern and relevant. The colours from Rosenberg are bright and bold, though some of the darker scenes allow her to stretch out and nail those too.

Man-eaters is off to a good start, and while it’s potential is its main selling point, this first issue is the time to jump on and check it out. Pick it up at your local comic book shop or online now!

 

Comic Review – Mockingbird #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those times.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Join S.H.I.E.L.D they said. Great health benefits, low co-pays…” – Bobbi Morse

Well this was supposed to be another indie comic review, but I managed to leave said indie comic 100 or so miles away in Coventry. The joys of living out of two addresses…. So when I got home tonight I realised I needed something else to review. A quick look at what was new out this week and Mockingbird (written by Chelsea Cain, art by Kate Niemczyc, colour artist Rachelle Rosenberg and letterer VC’s Joe Carmagna) caught my eye. I’ve never read any comics with her in before, but I’ve seen her alter-ego Bobbi Morse in Agents of SHIELD.

This is very much a first issue, but it is not an origin story. We know Bobbi has been injected with an experimental version of Cap’s Super Soldier Serum and SHIELD aren’t confident about the side effects it might be having. The comic entirely takes place in one of SHIELD’s research labs where Bobbi is having regular blood tests. We see her come in over a number of weeks and see how she’s fairing. Which is mixed to say the least (not that she’ll admit it!). We also get to see a few guest cameos in the background, from Howard the Duck reading a leaflet on stopping smoking to Hercules looking a little worse for wear.

The art is very much in line with a lot of Marvel’s other comics, like the current run on Thor, where the colours are strong and vibrant and things generally feel light and with a slight sense of humour about them. Speaking of, there’s a fair few references tucked away in this, some to the Agents of SHIELD TV show, and some to the Marvel universe in general if you know what to look for (read the forms!). This all adds to something Marvel have totally nailed in many of their current comic series – a sense of humour and danger all wrapped up into one. We also get to see a fun array of all of the outfits Mockingbird wears on some of her missions.

MockingbirdAs the plot focuses on her test results and current state of health I won’t go into too much detail on it, except to say it’s a very well written first issue, designed to grip the reader into wanting more. I was left looking for a few answers at the end of it, but there’s a helpful cheat sheet from the authors telling you what their rough plans are with the first few issues in the series (filling in the gaps between Bobbi’s appointments!).

In terms of criticism, I suppose the downside of keeping a lot of things mysterious is the reader is left with quite a few unknowns at the end. It would be nice to have gotten to know some of the supporting cast a little better as well.

Final Verdict

This is a very different first issue, but a very enjoyable one. I wasn’t looking to add any more comics to my regular list (I am supposed to be saving for a wedding…) but dammit Marvel you’ve done it again!

Final Score – 8.75 Vanishing Ping-Pong Balls out of 10!