When you love the first issue of a series as much as I did with this one, it’s a no brainer to read the next three issues no matter what. They earned that right. Time to take a look at issue #2–is it good?
Mae #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
So what’s it about? The official Dark Horse synopsis reads:
Mae’s prodigal sister Abbie is running from her past. She was the heroic savior of a fantasy world—that is, until it all came crashing down. Now she’s trying to pick up the pieces of her old life and help Mae take care of their sick father. But sinister creatures have followed her home, and they’re determined to get revenge.
Why does this book matter?
Gene Ha has written and drawn his pants off with issue #1, bringing us into his originally Kickstarter-funded comic. 1,476 backers and Dark Horse Comics can’t be wrong, can they?!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
That coffee is perilously over that laptop!
One of the many reasons why this issue (as well as last issue) works is the brilliantly boring midwest looking setting being infused with a bit of magic. Ha makes it vividly clear we are in the real world, so when Abbie shows up in strange clothes and fantastical monsters are chasing her it’s that much more magical. There’s something special about seeing characters that are 12 feet tall with glowing helmets standing outside an average supermarket. This all builds towards the inevitable need of our heroes entering the magical realm itself and it’s the setup in the real world that greatly increases the anticipation.
Outside of the setting, the characters continue to be written with strong character building dialogue and you’ll never question the bond these sisters have with each other. The father is brought into the story this issue too and Ha introduces a very complicated dynamic with him and his daughters. We’re given a taste of his point of view on Abbie and before we can really learn what their deal is he’s torn away once again, increasing your anticipation for the next issue. Mae continues to be a very likable character who serves as an effective gateway into this comic book world.
It’s not all dialogue and character building though, as Ha also brings on the action this issue. It’s kind of amazing how he manages to pull off action-packed moments in seven pages with only three to four panels per page. It might be because Ha is taking a snapshot of very dramatic beats in the action, cutting from one to the next, so that you may not piece together every bit of movement like how you would in a 17 panel Spider-Man comic, but you get the gist of it and most importantly what is going on.
A shame we all understand.
The art is also meaningful because of the expressive and almost lifelike color Ha uses on the faces. They seem so real, but in a CGI sort of way, so much so that it heightens the believability of the moment. Ha uses a lot of purple to make the pages pop, but it doesn’t get in the way of the reality of a scene, possibly because every other element is so well rendered.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Unless there’s some kind of magical reveal coming in another issue, there’s a bizarre exchange between Abbie and an old school teacher that seemed to ring a bit false. The character questions her with a rather direct and personal sort of question that is more for the audience, which took me out of the book a bit.
Is It Good?
Gene Ha continues to weave an addictive fantasy story, bringing us one step closer to a magical realm we may never want to leave.