Comics I Read While Recovering From Surgery

Comics I Read While Recovering From Surgery

Hi, my name is Jameson Hampton, I’m a critic for Women Write About Comics, and I recently went under the knife for my gender affirming surgery! (Yay!) Now that I’m in recovery, I’m trying to make the best of it: I have air conditioning during this heatwave, I have care packages from some dear friends,

Hi, my name is Jameson Hampton, I’m a critic for Women Write About Comics, and I recently went under the knife for my gender affirming surgery! (Yay!) Now that I’m in recovery, I’m trying to make the best of it: I have air conditioning during this heatwave, I have care packages from some dear friends, and I have a whole pile of comics that I can finally catch up on while I’m off from work! Here’s what I’ve been reading while I’m putting myself back together!

Voltron Legendary Defender: Volume 1 

Tim Hedrick (writer), Mitch Iverson (writer), Digital Art Chefs (artists)
Lion Forge

Voltron Legendary Defender Vol. 1, Lion Forge, 2017

As a huge fan of Voltron, I brought this book with me to read in the hospital because I hoped it would be cute and comforting, and it certainly was! The self-contained story was pretty straightforward, but that was part of what felt comforting about it. Each issue brought the paladins, like clockwork, one step closer to their goal, their progress a reassuring inevitability.

One thing that was a little frustrating about the first volume is that, because it takes place so early in the series, it’s before a lot of character development that the paladins have undergone in later seasons of the show, which makes them feel a little bit one dimensional. [As opposed to Voltron: The Third Dimension. —ED.] But I did really like how the adventure they embarked on gave each of them a chance to step up to the spotlight, momentarily take the lead and shine in their own way, because in any good team, each of the members should be essential and get their own share of the glory!

(I also read the first issue of the newest Voltron volume, which I reviewed in full!)

Snotgirl Volume 1: Green Hair Don’t Care

Leslie Hung (artist), Bryan Lee O’Malley (writer), Mickey Quinn (colorist)
Image Comics

Snotgirl Vol. 1, Image Comics, 2017

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Snotgirl. I had heard it described as funny, weird, and gross. I liked the look of Leslie Hung’s art, which was admittedly excellent.

The thing about this book that struck me immediately was that every single character is absolutely terrible. I would never want to spend any time with any of these people and all their problems are annoying and unrelatable. It’s… weirdly compelling. And the weirder and more convoluted the story got, the more of a page-turner it became!

I was actually a little worried going into it that a story about fashion bloggers, L.A.’s vainest and most beautiful, would set off my insecurities, especially with how gross I’ve been feeling in the wake of my surgery. But in addition to being terrible, the characters are all deeply unhappy. Snotgirl certainly has something to say about the impossibility of judging the quality of someone’s life based on the flawless social media image they curate, and that reminder felt somewhat like a relief.

The Witch Boy

Molly Knox Ostertag (artist, writer)
Scholastic

The Witch Boy, Scholastic, 2017

I’ve been wanting to read this graphic novel for a while, and my surgery recovery was the perfect time to do it. The story is about Aster, a young boy with a talent for witchery in a magical family where girls are always witches and boys are always shapeshifters. It’s very cute and magical, and there was something very compelling about this magical family, passing down their old ways and living together on a small patch of magical land, warded and secret.

The whole story is an obvious metaphor for being trans, which I knew going into it; Aster is supposed to be a shapeshifter, but only excels at witchery. But there was still one character who surprised me: the grandmother, who secretly has the ability to do both witch and shapeshifter magic. As a non-binary pagan, I’ve always felt that my connection with both masculine and feminine energy makes me uniquely qualified to practice magic, and it was a really rewarding surprise to see a character that reflected that!

Overall, the fact that this book exists and is available for kids to read is a blessing and it makes me happy.

Taproot

Keezy Young (artist, writer)
Lion Forge

Taproot, Lion Forge, 2017

Taproot has been sitting unread on my shelf for ages, so I took this as an opportunity to finally spend some time with it. Even though it’s a quick read, I think I’ll be spending more time with this book in the future, because it’s absolutely beautiful. The art alone is such a powerful aesthetic that it makes me feel a certain way, and those are the kinds of books I end up coming back to again and again.

I knew Taproot was a queer love story, which is always a good genre to be, but I think it’s also a story about chosen family. I found the little family of ghosts charming and heartwarming, just a group of people in an unfortunate situation who found and clung to each other. I almost found myself wishing for a sad ending so I could have a good cry, but I’m also the kind of person who’s always complaining about queer love stories always being tragic, so I certainly can’t complain about a change of pace there!

Star Wars: Kanan Book 1: The Last Padawan

Jacopo Camagni (artist), David Curiel (Colorist), Pepe Larraz (artist), Greg Weisman (writer)
Marvel Comics

Star Wars: Kanan Vol 1, Marvel, 2015

The thing that’s so wonderful about the Star Wars universe is how big it feels. No matter what time period, in every corner of the galaxy, there are people trying to live their lives. Every major event is experienced by so many different perspectives. There are so many stories to be told, and the Star Wars comics do a great job fostering that feeling and telling some of those stories. This one is about Kanan Jarrus, from the Rebels cartoon, and his experience as a Padawan living through the Clone Wars and Order 66.

I loved this comic even more than I expected to. Experiencing Order 66 from a new, up-close perspective is fascinating, and Kanan’s perspective really drives home how heart-wrenchingly tragic it was for everyone involved. The clones and the Jedi were friends, fighting side by side together, and so many Jedi spent their last moments cutting down and eventually being overcome by their own friends. It really made me feel for the clone troopers, too. Their brains were overwritten and their free will taken away without them even realizing what was happening to them. This story would have been good even if it were about a character I didn’t already know, so the fact that it was adding more depth to Kanan, who was previously my least favorite character in my favorite Star Wars cartoon, is just a bonus!

The Mighty Thor Volume 1: Thunder in Her Veins

Jason Aaron (writer), Russell Dauterman (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist)
Marvel Comics

The Mighty Thor Vol. 1, Marvel, 2016

I was excited to hear about Jane Foster becoming the new Thor when that happened in 2016, but it wasn’t until now that one of her books actually ended up in my hands. But while I love Jane as Thor, there are a number of other things in this book that I don’t care for. I see what they’re trying to do with Jane’s battle against cancer; the idea that becoming Thor sets back her treatment is interesting! The problem is that I don’t really understand why she can’t just stay Thor all the time and that makes it feel so unnecessary that it comes off as trying to force in a dark, gritty backstory. I don’t particularly care for Odin in the role of the tyrant, although it did make a lot of room for Freja and Heimdall to be badasses. There was also a “brainwashed the beautiful woman into marrying me to steal her kingdom” side-plot that I definitely never asked for in the Year of Our Lord 2018.

The portrayal of Loki, who is my all-time favorite comic book character, did interest me, although I was a little torn on it! Loki has been given so much character development over the years, but it’s frustrating that they’re so quick to trash it and just make him a villain again. I saw a little bit of that in this book, but he also does seem a little different now and there were definite allusions to his Agent of Asgard run. Loki here had most of the character traits that I like about him: unpredictable, unbothered by current circumstances, along for the ride. And the chance to see a bunch of different Lokis interacting with themselves was enough to make the whole trade worthwhile for me.


This might feel like an eclectic assortment of comics without much tying them together. It’s true that they’re very different comics, with different themes and different characters. In fact, the only thing they really have in common is: me! They were all books that I’ve been wanting to read, either because they’re from my franchises I love (Voltron and Star Wars), from authors I enjoy (Molly, Keezy, and Bryan Lee O’Malley), or featuring my favorite characters (Thor and Loki).

Recovering from surgery involves focusing on yourself and your own well-being, first and foremost, which is hard for a lot of people, including myself! The other thing these books have in common, at least on my shelf, is they were all gifts from friends, and that makes them the most comforting books of all.

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