Smart Bitch Pull List: Issue #1

We’re utilizing the Lightning Reviews a little differently this week and introducing the Smart Bitch Pull List, which consists of nothing but comic reviews. Typically, these are single issues and would be incredibly difficult to write a lengthy, standard review for. We hope you enjoy these three and we hope to have some more in the future!

Heathen #1

author: Natasha Alterici

I only have one bad thing to say about the new comic Heathen and that is that there are only four issues out as of this writing (August 2016) so I can’t go on a massive binge. I heart this comic with every cell of my heart. Crazed raving ahead.

Heathen is about a Viking woman named Aydis who is exiled after she is caught kissing another woman. Aydis is fearless, determined, and deeply sympathetic to Brynhild, who, like Aydis, is being controlled by the laws of men. Aydis heads into the wilderness with her horse, Saga, to free Brynhild:

My mother was alone when she gave birth to me. She refused to die until my father found us.

My father raised me alone, teaching me everything that his father had taught him.

Saga was alone, his leg snared in a bear trap, when my father and I found him during a hunting trip.

And on some mountaintop, a Valkyrie waits alone.

And I intend to free her.

Of course, Aydis discovers that freeing Brynhild is only the beginning of her story. The series is fun and full of magic and adventure, but also full of feminism and respect for different expressions of love and sexuality. The first issue establishes the world, Aydis’ predicament, and the story of Brynhild. The first four issues are available digitally and there’s also a trade paperback collection of those same issues. The art is gorgeous, the characters fantastic, and the comic is truly unlike any other comic on the stands right now in terms of art, storytelling, and setting. Above all, it leaves the reader asking that most important question, “What happens next?”

illustration from Heathen. Ardis tells Saga the story of Brunhild.

Carrie S

Mind the Gap #1

author: Jim McCann

Mind the Gap is a comic whose first issue I’ve had for awhile, but just never got around to reading it for whatever reason. The series was on hiatus for about a year, but according the the creator’s Twitter, he’s back in action! Which means readers have plenty of time to catch up.

Ellis, the heroine, was brutally attacked for reasons that are a mystery. The attack lands her in a coma, but her spirit still exists in an in-between world called The Garden – so named because a majority of souls stuck there are in vegetative states. While there, Ellis can see and observe things around her, like her family and friends visiting her in the hospital. She also has a charming guide named Bobby, who flirts with her pretty heavily and she’s not having it.

Ellis dressed up as the bee girl from Blind Melon's
She’s saying, “Shit.”

Music seems to play a big role in the comic, or at least in the first issue. I picked up that Ellis and her friends work in theater in some way. There are references to Shakespeare and Cats. And I loved these little references because they lightened Ellis’ awful circumstances. My favorite panel is Ellis dressed up like the bee girl from Blind Melon’s “No Rain” music video.

However, the first issue has a lot of action packed into fifty pages and it felt like getting whiplash. There’s this overlying mystery of Ellis’ attack, but other questions come up, too. Like why is her doctor hiding things in her report? What does Ellis’ brother hate her? A lot happens and at the end, I was left feeling a bit disoriented as I tried to make sense of what the hell was going on.

A lot of the transitions, I felt, were very abrupt and jarring, which often took me out of the story briefly while my brain tried to catch up. It’s an intense start to Mind the Gap and it was as if the comic wanted to get all of the mystery setup out of the way in the first issue. But I really loved the art (the colors!) and musical/literary references.

Amanda

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Princess Princess Ever After

author: Katie O’Neill

Princess Princess is an adorable graphic novel for children and adults. You can read the whole thing in about ten minutes so it’s like a little chocolate truffle.

This is the story of two princesses, Sadie and Amira. Amira travels the land performing heroic deeds with the help of her unicorn, Cookie. She rescues Sadie from a tower with help from Cookie and Sadie’s very small dragon, Oliver. In the course of the story, the princesses make friends, solve problems creatively, and celebrate a wedding.

This comic includes two lesbian protagonists, one of whom is dark skinned. It deals with bullying and body-shaming and personal freedom versus responsibility. It does all this without being preachy. The bold drawings, large panels, and bright colors impart a fun, light-hearted feel to the story. It will only take a few minutes to read, but what a lovely few minutes! You can find the book in hardback or for free online at strangelykatie.com.

Carrie S

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