Writer/Creator: Chelsea Cain
Artist: Kate Niemczyk
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: For Image Comics by Ministry of Trouble
Creative Producer: Lia Miternique
Additional Interior Art: Stella Greenvoss
Swagger: Katie Lane
Release Date: September 26, 2018
Pulp Nation Rating: 10
Let’s start by being honest with each other.
I knew little about comics before coming to the Nation. By no means would I profess comic expertise; instead I continue to seek out all that I can about sequential art, not wishing to inflict a disservice on any writer, pencil or inker, or letterer, or swaggerer whose comic upon which I write.
As a child, I always thought that a government job was the way to go, to ensure money and a modicum of job security. I figured I’d find employ as a social services type. People will always have troubles, right?
Well, life doesn’t generally listen to our musings; instead, it runs a course into which we may or may not have input. As it stands today, I am not a social worker with any government or ministry; instead, I find myself with the formidable task of reviewing Man-eaters #1, a product of the Ministry of Trouble, Inc. This is something I could not have predicted.
Again, another dose of honesty on which to cut your teeth. I enjoyed comics but had not been able to dive in with the enthusiasm of my partner and family. That is until now.
The Ministry of Trouble has contacted me you might say.
Starting at the Beginning
Let’s start at the beginning; great title, I mean who wouldn’t like it, right? Man-eaters, a name that posits boundless potential and a small dose of apprehension. I worry that the potential subject matter that follows a name like Man-eaters if poorly performed adds only strength to the feminist-illiterate dogma that can quickly run rampant. With every Trumped screen, social media feed, whatever, with every instance of misogyny held under a microscope, blown-up for all to see, and then dismissed in an equally public display of intangibility, this comic will either knock one down or add another brick.
Man-Eaters #1 begins with a superheroic anecdote, as envisioned by Maude, a 12-year-old girl, living with her father, a detective. Her protector is ‘Tampon Woman,’ charged with freeing her people from the evil grip of ‘Mr. Misogyny’.
Okay, my attention is fully unwrapped, still some apprehension but ready to keep going.
From there, Maude introduces us to the ins and outs of her world. Maude’s universe is relatively comparable to the one in which my six kids live. I’m confident my babies—three girls, and three boys, aged 18, 16,15,13, 9 & 9—will agree wholeheartedly that life often goes south faster and more often than they would like. As they all wade farther and farther into their teen years, either as a ‘boy’ or ‘girl,’ things seem to crap the bed quite often.
For Maude however, life veers off quite differently. Girls entering puberty in the Man-eater universe, quite literally, become killer felines, going as far as to murder their entire family. As such, society is resolute; teen girls, going through ‘the change’ must be defeated, weakened, made to feel ashamed and to see themselves as monsters. You might think that is where Maude and my children’s realities differ. The exquisiteness flowing through Man-Eater #1 is that it isn’t.
Making Trouble and a Great Comic
Chelsea Cain’s words are expert, wittily, and wisely chosen, adding depth to this story that simple skimmers will miss. That the soccer coach’s team is the Honey Badgers, the SCAT team notes only a three to a five-day window in which to track these deviants, the t-shirt slogan of a deviant’s top, exclaiming ‘fight like a girl,’ genius!
Now any review worth its weight knows that the story—the word art—is but one part of a superior comic. Writer, penciler, inker, colorist, letterer, all are co-authors. So-so comics will excel in a few of these persons. Excellent sequential art’s storytelling shines from the aggregate of these talents.
Kate Niemczyk, both penciler and inker, provides artistic brilliance, moving from penciling to an inked masterpiece. The space in each panel is well-balanced, running your eye through the story of Man-Eaters #1. Several panels use light to illuminate the young monsters-to-be, while simultaneously depicting the formerly trusted adults in their young lives, often while in the act of turning the teen over to the authorities, in a less than well-lit image. The lines, use of light and shade, cast upon the sad, perplexed expressions of the young girls in manacles amplifies the feelings of sad abandonment.
Rachelle Rosenberg’s use of pinks and purples keeps the reader aware of the subject matter; teen girls. Thrown in among the hearts and teddy bears of innocence, Rosenberg switches seamlessly to complementary colors, striking the reader about the head, depicting the inherent evil resting dormant. The different reds, a power color, add to the perplexity of the heroine yet to be.
The display lettering’s soft curves rest upon a glittering pink and purple background, offering only lowercase letters, hardly a threat indeed. Joe Caramagna blends his artistic genius seamlessly, resulting in a remarkable reading happenstance.
Man-Eaters #1: Final Thoughts
Timely; this sardonic, playful period-shaming plot, comes in a teen-friendly, heck, enlightened-individual-friendly format. This first edition brings humor to a difficult time in a young woman’s life while at once hoping to educate those whose empathy glass is half-empty. I look forward to the next installment as I am always up for a pro-feline programme.
I await further instruction.
P.S. I love the editor’s note to never use the word ‘pussy’ around an agitated cat, or girlfriend. It provokes them. Bluntman and Chronic I sure concur, especially since supplements are paid for by men and boys. America must be great again! (ouch!)