Magical Beatdown Volume 1 & 2
Jenn Woodall (Art & Words)
With a longsword, a baseball bat studded in nails, and her trustworthy bloodthirsty motorbike, Jenn Woodall’s eye-patched magical vigilante combats harassment from scumbags with style all while paying homage to classic magical girl manga with her zines published by Silver Sprocket, Magical Beatdown Volumes 1 & 2.
Fighting villains by moonlight is often a theme in the magical girl genre. Magical Girl manga often focuses on adolescent girls gifted with supernatural powers to fend off evildoers and protect those around them, all while balancing school and keeping a veil of secrecy around their nightly activities. Accompanied by often wonderfully sparkly transformation sequences and great costumes, this genre cemented a place in many girls hearts in the ’90s—Sailor Moon, anybody?
“Jenn Woodall’s eye-patched magical vigilante combats harassment from scumbags with style all while paying homage to classic magical girl mangas.”
Woodall takes this sweet, rated-G style and sprinkles a little ultra-violence into the mix. With Magical Beatdown, she creates a visually tantalizing tale that touches on nostalgia while submerging you into a story wholly her own. In volume one, we see our magical vigilante just getting out of school and heading to the arcade to beat her high score. While humming down the street, some bald dude stops her and says, “You really need to stop that humming it’s really annoying.” She brushes it off, but baldy doesn’t want to leave well enough alone, and his friends circle her. Our hero decides enough is enough and takes action and becomes her super-powered alter ego.
Magical Beatdown Vol. 1 is not just about kicking the hell out of assholes (which honestly, a dope plus) but is a story about girls, women, and femme people fighting for their right to take up space. Arcades and gaming are often male-dominated spaces where women can feel intimidated just for trying to partake in the fun. In Woodall’s zine, she comments on how, in these spaces, women or femme people are often subjected to verbal or physical harassment. But in Magical Beatdown, our hero serves that injustice back with a bloody bat to the face.
“Woodall takes this sweet, rated-G style and sprinkles a little ultra violence into the mix.”
Woodall’s use of color is fantastic, not only is the blue and neon pink palette a fun treat for the eyes, but she also uses color to help transition through the transformation sequence giving the main characters identities two separate vibes. Blue, of course, is the chill slice-of-life feel and the shocking neon pink preps the reader for the action that is about to ensue. Nothing can quite prepare you for the gore of our radical hero’s crime fighting. In a level of violence that is often left for the depiction of male crimefighters, Woodall decapitates the idea that Magical Girls have to fight fair and clean and then kicks its bloody head to the side.
Nothing embodies this idea more than Magical Beatdown Volume 2. Bloodier than its predecessor, MB2 solidifies the hero’s goal to protect girls from the harassment of men by going out to take care of a gang of disrespectful guys with frail egos. Woodall’s comic focuses on the male gaze, and comments on how male expectations and wounded pride have nothing to do with the women they harass.
“Nothing can quite prepare you for the gore of our radical hero’s crime fighting. “
Woodall’s art is dynamic in the fight scenes of this book. In one panel, our hero’s flowing hair is juxtaposed with her holding the dismembered jaw of her enemy. This panel embodies female strength and the themes of this book all in one moment. Each scene of this zine flows effortlessly into the next, helping to create a fast-paced bloodbath punctuated by shimmers and sparkles, which indeed every fight scene needs.
Silver Sprocket’s Magical Beatdown Volumes 1 & 2 by Jenn Woodall are a wonderful mix of magical girl nostalgia and searing commentary on harassment. Woodall’s use of fantastical art and color meld into a story that a lot of women and femme-identifying people can relate too. She creates a hero we want to cheer on as she cuts down the displays of toxic masculinity surrounding her. Magical Beatdown packs a lot of fun and ass-kicking in a short series. Who doesn’t like reading about sword-wielding magical girls fighting crime in neon-tinted moonlight? Definitely pick these books up.