Space travel. Religious war. A high fantasy epic. That’s the story of She Said Destroy. It’s simple to get into and easy to follow, but has many layers beneath the surface. Cast aside the restrictive, boring confines of Earth and planetary limitations, throw in gargantuan space ships and beautiful planets filled with majestic landscapes, add the narrative framework of an epic Star Wars movie, and you have a recipe for a great read. It’s cool, exciting, action-packed, and it draws you in. Now add in the reveal that Winona, a main protagonist is non-binary and is learning to harness the powers of rage and pain for good and you have yourself a must-read issue!
While this series does have a clear overarching narrative, each issue fits into a seemingly eternal struggle between the evil forces of light and the benevolent forces of darkness in a way that allows issue two to stand alone from issue one. It’s much like Empire Strikes Back can stand alone from A New Hope, even if it’s not traditionally recommended. This war to hunt down the last remaining goddess in opposition to Brigid’s regime of light may seem to be reaching its conclusion, but it appears to have gone on for so long that each issue appears to be but a small tale in an incomprehensibly large epic. As long as you recognize the larger framework at play, it doesn’t matter where you begin. Unfortunately, this style means that She Said Destroy #2 especially suffers from extreme decompression. One can definitely recognize thematic and character goals that were accomplished in the issue, the narrative didn’t really end with anything major. Its strength, however, is an unmatched level of thematic consistency. The book and the creative team are able to consistently balance an impressive number of genres and themes across an entire issue. There are fantasy, sci-fi, and mythical elements at play that are all interwoven into a beautiful tapestry. The constant subversion of light and dark never ceases to impress, and each issue has a different core message it wants to drive home. There is no singular TV show or movie to compare this to because there is no one property like this. One would get close by saying American Gods meets The Wicked + The Divine meets Star Wars, but even that still feels reductive.
It’s also impressive how this book is able to maintain such high stakes within very street-level characters. We may often see them during combat training or using magic, but the dialogue is extremely grounded and genuine. It doesn’t always feel that the universe may be on the line. Sometimes you simply feel the friendship, camaraderie, and support worshipers of the Fey have for one another instead of the blind loyalty or fear most have for Brigid. The last of the coven may reside in a fairy tail-like castle, but there are also a lot of beautiful, natural landscape to marvel at thanks to Liana Kangas’s stunning line work and Rebecca Nalty’s brilliant coloring. It’s as much an everyday training session completely with some dramatic emotional beats as it is a full-scale war, and it strikes a great balance. She Said Destroy is the kind of comic you can recommend to anyone because it has a little of everything within its pages.
Joe Corallo’s dialogue really hits home and masters the idea of speaking to some of the more contradictory elements in the book. Brigid, this evil light goddess, speaks in a very gentle and kind manner before violently burning people to a crisp. It makes you stop and think, “Is she really evil?” before realizing that, yes, she very much is. Meanwhile Morrigan and her followers speak with a violent urgency and a deep level of pain, but their magic, while harnessing rage, looks so beautiful. This is only accentuated by Melanie Ujimori’s lettering, especially for Brigid and Morrigan. They have blue and purple word balloons with a second, detached outline that gives everything they say more weight and more reverberation. This is in great contrast to the rest of the dialogue which has no outlines, so everything they say is not only heard but felt. Add that to the book’s signature cool pastel color scheme and loose, wispy line work and all of the sudden a signature style begins to emerge.
A lot of characters appear to share equal time on the page in this issue, but no one feels more like the protagonist than Winona. They are a character thrust into a situation they aren’t prepared to handle and we all know what that feels like. They are pushed by those around them in ways they aren’t necessarily comfortable with and it hurts a great friendship they have with Raul. Kanga’s work is very sharp and defined to convey a lot of emotion through facial expressions made with only a few lines, and Nalty’s coloring is really what adds most of the fantasy elements to the book. The beautiful combinations of lavender and sky blue give the book a lighter feel than a large-scale conflict would normally have. The paneling and angle choices bring the action scenes to life and give them a lot of importance. Winona especially has a great splash page that encompasses almost all of these elements as they’re filled with worry over whether or not they have what it takes.
Thematically, this book has a lot to offer about the idea of pushing someone to their limits. Do people need to be pushed in this way to become their best, or can it backfire? We see both instances in this issue, and it gives us something to think about. Pushing someone too far can be very destructive, even if you think you’re doing it because you can see the potential in them. At the same time, Brigid is proof that being pushed into changing herself in order to maintain relevance has, in some ways, caused her to become stronger. She is willing to do whatever it takes for her followers to thrive and for her to be worshiped, even if she has to sacrifice parts of who she is. It’s a thematically rich issue that would achieve an even stronger message if it didn’t feel like there was so much decompression. In some ways it feel’s like the end of a war of attrition, which it is, and that’s a good thing, but it’s also a bit harmful to the story as well.
She Said Destroy #2 continues to offer something for everyone. There’s a lot of beautiful and subversive takes on a combination of classic genres, and when you add that to a rich potential of character development, it feels like we’re only scraping the surface of something extraordinary.