Corinna Bechko (writer), Jonathan Lau (illustrator), Vinicius Andrade (colorer), Simon Bowland (letterer), Tula Lotay (main cover)
May 4, 2016
Disclaimer: This review is based on an advanced copy from the publisher and may contain spoilers.
After the delight that was Miss Fury Vol. #1, I was pretty excited to get on to issue #2. Like a lot of people, I don’t pay attention to colors like I should. Coloring is crucial to the tone and mood of a comic. WWAC has been highlighting the labor of colorists in a new column called Colorists on Color. Following along with this column and getting my head wrapped around the intricacies and technicalities of coloring in comics has got me thinking more about this topic, and this awareness came to mind while reading this second issue.
Coloring a Noir comic is particularly fascinating, because Noir (by the name alone) means scenes of darkness, shadows and shading: Shady characters lurking in back alleys, our heroine hiding in the shadows as she waits for the perfect opportunity to pounce. Scenes with Miss Fury are heavily shadowed to the point of almost total saturation in the background and hatching in the foreground. They have the sense of a panther lurking in the jungle, but cast in an industrialized setting—and this contrast stands out in this issue.
Originally, Marla obtained her powers via a panther pelt that served as a ceremonial robe for an African shaman—a form of racism that trades on exoticizing African people (an entire continent of people!) for a plot device. The origins of Miss Fury’s powers appear to be different in this story. At first, I thought that racism was being transferred from one locale to another (in this case Brazil), but a particular turn in the story really caught my eye.
In one scene, Marla heads to the library to do some research on the occult. In discussion about the occult with the librarian, she briefly mentions Louis Judd and The Anatomy of Atavism. Louis Judd is fictional psychiatrist from the 1942 horror classic Cat People! The Anatomy of Atavism is a book created specifically for the film. What an intriguing connection between pop culture artifacts that deal in similar themes!
My interest in this comic was already piqued in the first issue, but the creative team for this comic is weaving a fascinating tapestry of historical context into this comic. In a conversation between Marla and her friend Edi, Edi mentions her own parents fascination with the occult during the height of Victorian spiritualism. It’s these little moments that ignite my inner nerd, and I want to run around telling anyone interested in occult history, Noir comics, and well-written female characters that they should really, really be reading this comic. Plus, the fashion is historical to the 1940s with nary a torpedo boob in sight.
Dynamite has done its best work in the grand tradition of classic adventure and pulp and now seems to be hitting its stride doing genre work with women-led comics like Red Sonja and the recently revamped Vampirella and Miss Fury. There’s still work to be done, particularly in regards to race, but there’s some interesting creative work happening right now from this comics publisher.