Disclaimer: A review copy of Supercakes was provided by the Yeti Press.
By day, May, a.k.a Tank, and Molly, a.k.a Shift, are two superheroes trying to save the city. But by night, they’re two regular women trying to make their relationship work.
These ass-kicking sweethearts first appeared in a short comic online called “Pancakes” and more stories followed after, now collected by Yeti Press in Supercakes.
Supercakes isn’t your average superhero fare in many ways. For starters, it’s a look at what life is like for a superhero outside of the hero-ing. But there’s also the format of the comic itself. There is no overarching narrative to May and Molly’s story. Instead, both the unique and the mundane aspects of their life are spotlighted through a series of vignettes, the majority of which are short and sweet. They’re charming enough, but on their own don’t leave a strong impression. The strength of this collection is how they work together. There may not be a central plot, and the vignettes may be short, but at the end you come away feeling as though you have a more well-rounded understanding of what goes behind the masks.
That being said, there are a few that stand out above the rest. The original story “Pancakes,” which starts the collection, is one of these few. It opens on them having breakfast, with Molly summoning the courage to ask May to move in together. But then the phone rings, calling May in for “work.” In only six pages, Leyh smoothly establishes the ordinary and extraordinary in their life. They face the same bumps and challenges many average couples face, but they have to find a place for those challenges in and around the needs of their city. So they make the decision to move into together while throwing on costumes, and they swap their weirdest stories over coffee on the couch.
By far the strongest story in the collection, however, is “Welcome to the Family.” In this selection May takes Molly home to meet her family. Molly is understandably nervous. She’s used to keeping her powers a secret, and the story hints at some childhood trauma, whereas May’s family is not only warm and welcoming, but multiple members have abilities themselves. They’re loud and noisy and huggers—everything that Molly isn’t. But they welcome her, and eventually she finds a place among them. It’s a touching and emotional look at family, identity, and the importance of finding a place that welcomes you as you are, no strings, no exceptions.
“Welcome to the Family” is also a perfect example of how excellent the characters are in this collection. Supercakes is full of complex and interesting people, all of whom are smoothly integrated in the text. For starters there’s the different body sizes—not just between May and Molly, but between different members of May’s family. And then there’s May’s family itself. It is a complex family, filled with foster children with different abilities and cultures. But it is a happy and supportive one, and it’s great to see such positive representation of different family systems in comics. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Grey Greave, a robot suit wearing African American woman, who joins Molly and May as they fight to defend the city. Her personality and strength made her an instant favourite, and it was a shame the comic didn’t introduce her until the end of the collection.
The art of Supercakes is soft and flowing, with beautiful colours. Leyh uses thin lines, which gives the characters and their surrounding a rather wispy look. It’s subdued when it needs to be, like when Molly speaks to May’s foster sister Ames, but the same style is also dynamic and fluid with good energy when the girls need to spring into action.
It’s easy to fall in love with Molly and May and to want to know more about them and their life together. After reading Supercakes it feels like you’ve learned so much about them, but still want to know more. Unfortunately, at this time there is no Supercakes Volume 2 scheduled from Yeti Press. Hopefully, that will change sometime in the future, but in the meantime, Kat Leyh will be taking Noelle Stevenson’s place on Lumberjanes, and chances are good she’ll infuse that title with many of the qualities that made Supercakes such an enchanting read.