Review of The Order of Dagonet Issue #1

Faery Apocalypse + British Creative Types = A weird concoction of Crayola-color-bright art and witty dialog (or, in other words, Order of Dagonet, a new comic book series written by Jeremy Whitely and drawn by Jason Strutz).

I think my equation pretty much sums it up, but—if I must elaborate—Order of Dagonet is a series depicting the heroic adventures of a group of artistic (writers, actors, intellectuals) Brits who must save our friends across the pond from mythological creatures who have taken over Parliament (and kidnapped the queen).

The art is like—bam!—nothing you’d ever see Marvel or DC coming out with. It’s “artistic” (am I allowed to say that?) in its use of unusual panels and conté-crayon-like texture. The colors are bold. The lines are loose. The panels are more often than not NOT rectangular. I’m not surprised to see Action Lab publishing yet another risk-taking comic book with unusual art, but it’s always a pleasure.

The best part of the writing? Jeremy’s rendering of the varying British accents. I’m a major proponent of writing a character’s accent into the dialog, as doing so continually reinforces the character’s personality. Since being British is such a significant focus of the story, it’s vital the characters’ voices pop.

My overall opinion? This comic is worth the $4.99 price tag, and I have the feeling that for many this comic will appeal beyond the first issue. In fact a preview of Issue 2 is up here!

Review and Rating of The End Is Totally Nigh

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: what’s better than a kick-ass comic book with a strong female lead? How ‘bout a kick-ass comic book with a strong female lead written by a woman and featuring demons, pistols, and bottles of liquor? Let me introduce you to The End Is Totally Nigh, a comic book written by Kara Barrett, who I interviewed several weeks back. This comic is a black and white cocktail of horror, western, and manga. Let me elaborate:

The story begins with witty narration and a full-on splash page depicting a horde of demons emerging from some netherworld to overtake our real world. We are first introduced to our main character, Jane, as she muses about the fate of the world while taking a swig out of what looks like a bottle of whisky. At this point, I’m interested because what I see is some cool western elements (the style of the town, the whisky, the duel-equse pose between Jane and an unnamed antagonist) combined with manga-inspired artwork (dewy eyes, lines galore, and, of course, the lack of color).

And then the horror element arrives. We are taken back in time to one of Jane’s first missions as a demon expert. The setting is a middle school in the “boonies.” And the demon has possessed a little girl.  Here, we are introduced to what might be the beginnings of a team: a cigarette-smoking priest, a guy who calls himself Cowboy, and their snappy leader Grace. Teams are always fun (if you didn’t see the Avengers movie, what are you doing reading this blog?), so I’m hopeful for this team’s evolution in issues to come.

Overall, the art is cool. I like it. It’s also smart. See Page two, panel two for some awesome composition. Plus, the creators aren’t afraid to experiment with unique angles.  The writing is witty and interesting. I already have a feel for Jane’s character, and I’ve only known her for 25 pages. Although I was a bit confused at some points, the cliffhanger ending has me wanting more.

 The End Is Totally Nigh will be available soon. In the meantime, check out the Facebook page and a free web version of Issue #1.

UPDATE: The End Is Totally Nigh has been picked up by Alterna Comics for their digital line up. Issues will be up on comixology later this summer. 

 % Panels Devoted to Women

Probably close to 95%, especially since the demon has possessed a little girl who gets more than a few full-panels to herself.

Women in Action

 ★★★Women often participate in plot-moving action.

Jane’s the main protagonist after all.

Women as Leaders

★★★Women often lead the other characters.

The team’s leader is a woman, and Jane does some leading herself.

Women as Sex Objects

★★★Women are depicted as sexy (or their sex is not emphasized at all), but their allure does not define their purpose as a prominent, plot-moving character in the comic.

Jane’s cute, no doubt, but it’s clear that her actions speak stronger than her appearance. She’s compared to a girl scout by one of the other characters, but her unique demon fighting abilities prove she’s a lot more than she appears.

Men Deviating from Male Stereotypes

★ ★ Men sometimes deviate from the male stereotypes of a logical mind, rationality, lack of expression and empathy.

One of the guys calls himself Cowboy. The priest is kind of a hard ass. I don’t see any guys acting apart from society’s expectations, at least not yet.

Review & Rating of Jack Hammer, Issue #1

Book One: Political Science, Part One

By Barrows and Ionic

Publisher: Action Lab Comics

Jack Hammer is a crime noir style comic book with a unique superhero twist, reminding me a little bit of both Watchmen and X-Men as well as the new series Fatale. The crime noir style comes out most evidently in the storyline, which centers around a self-employed detective, Jack Hammer, who—and here is were things get unique—has a superhuman activities license. The dramatic silhouettes, the clothing style of the characters, and even the dialog nod to crime noir. And while I’m a fan of crime noir, even as it is attempted today in comics like Fatale, I’m not completely sure if Jack Hammer makes it work. The first issue does little to define itself as a unique noir comic, one that borrows the elements of traditional crime noir and shapes them into a unique story. The concept of people with superpowers kicking butt in this noir world, however, does intrigue me, and I’m hoping that Jack Hammer’s world continues to develop in a unique way with issues following

The art is perhaps more compelling than the storyline.  Reds are a prominent color throughout, while sepia-toned flashbacks make for a dynamic read. I’m most compelled by the “sketchiness” of the lines, something I haven’t seen before in a superhero comic. The artwork infuses into the story a tone and attitude (fast-paced, urban, rough) that is trying desperately to match a storyline that still hasn’t come into its own.

Ultimately, I have high hopes for the future of Jack Hammer, as the story—hopefully—begins to define itself as a unique twist on the noir style.  If you are a crime noir fan who also enjoys the superhero genre, it’s worth a read no doubt. You can pre-order a copy here:

% Panels Devoted to Women


Women in Action

★ ★ Women occasionally participate in plot-moving action.

We’ve got a couple of apparently important women in the story, but it remains to be seen if they truly are big players.

Women as Leaders

★ ★ Women depicted occasionally as leaders.

Women as Sex Objects

★★★Women are depicted as sexy (or their sex is not emphasized at all), but their allure does not define their purpose as a prominent, plot-moving character in the comic.

I’m happy to give Jack Hammer three stars for this point. There are only a couple of important female characters thus far, and while they are certainly attractive, their sex isn’t overemphasized.

Men Deviating from Male Stereotypes

★ Men never express their emotions; they engage is mostly physical action. They are depicted as logical and apathetic. 

It’s a crime noir comic that mostly sticks to the stereotypical rough and gruff detective character.

Review and Rating of Princeless

Princeless appeals to all my feminist sensibilities. And while I’ve thus far made an attempt to keep these sensibilities out of my reviews (and into the ratings), I’m breaking my rule (But really, I named my blog Ms.Comix. Perhaps quiet feminism wasn’t ever in the plans). So here’s the compromise. Let me first present you with an analytical review of Princeless. Then, allow me to unleash the feminist. Deal?

Princeless conveys its main plot quite explicitly in its name alone. A young woman, a princess named Adrienne, is locked away in a tall tower. But she’s unlike the princesses of your typical fairytale. Adrienne decides she doesn’t want to wait around for a prince, so she befriends the dragon guarding her tower and saves herself. Now, she’s on a quest to save all her sisters.

The plot is unique (I’ve certainly never read anything like it before), but the concept of a fairytale parody (think Enchanted) is borderline cliché.  However, this cliché is forgiven pretty quickly, as the art compels. The lively yet cool color pallet sets a tone in accordance with the pithy, light writing style. The large panels, sometimes full page in size, create a more casual reading experience.

What I enjoy most about Princeless is the characterization. Adrienne is the kick-butt type, and it works. She’s loud, opinionated, and clever. And she’s surrounded by an equally dynamic cast—a prince who seems to have a thing for frogs, a brother who enjoys the beauty of words, and a girlfriend who is half dwarf and can wield an impossibly massive hammer. In short, the characters of Princeless are not cardboard cutouts or anything close to it.

Expect a pleasant ride when you pick up issue one (and don’t expect you’ll be content to stop there!). Princeless is enjoyable, casual, and simple enough for children yet profound enough to touch upon issues most comics simply ignore.

And that’s where the feminist comes in.

Here’s my thought process when it comes to fiction: A writer has the power to shape an alternate reality. She has the ability to create a better world, to not take the real world’s social conventions as a given. A writer has the power to undo stereotypes. Yet, very few writers of fiction recognize this power.

I have read far too many fantasies that accept society’s stereotypes as given.  If you have the chance to create a whole new world, why are your female characters old hags, bitchy villains, innocent young lovers, or caring mothers?  (If you need an example, read the Eragon series. Why are the village women always so…domesticated?) Why not seize upon this opportunity to cast women in nuanced roles that more accurately portray their potential, roles that denounce the stereotypes of a patriarchal society?

Princeless, happily, does seize this opportunity. Princeless (perhaps even to the point of potentially harming its plot and characterization) constantly questions women’s role in this fantasy world.

“I don’t need a hero or a prince or anyone else!” states Adrienne.  And when presented with the so-called armor (e.g. chainmail bikinis) of a woman warrior, the princess declares what women in the real world (and especially women who read comics!) so often believe, “Just because I have a woman’s body doesn’t mean I have to show it to everyone! Especially if I’m on a quest. Why can’t I just be a hero?”

I want my little sister to read this comic. I want my future daughter to read this comic. I want you to go out and read this comic and then go out and read this comic to the little girl or boy in your life.

Let’s start undoing stereotypes!

Princeless is currently available through Diamond (in stores everywhere!).  Additionally, it is available digitally on at

% Panels Devoted to Women

Okay, I’m not counting. Too many. (Don’t you love when that happens?). Let’s say…98%.

Women in Action

 ★★★Women often participate in plot-moving action.

Um, yeah, like constantly.

Women as Leaders

★★★Women often lead the other characters.


Women as Sex Objects

★★★Women are depicted as sexy (or their sex is not emphasized at all), but their allure does not define their purpose as a prominent, plot-moving character in the comic.

Adrienne’s a pretty girl. That’s all there is to it. She’s not oversexualized at all. (Expect, of course, when she has to wear a Wonder-Woman-esque outfit and is catcalled by some of the king’s men. But that was to make a point.)

Men Deviating from Male Stereotypes

★★★Men deviate dramatically from the male stereotype. They express their emotions, use creativity, and think of others.

Adrienne’s brother for example. Can’t swing a sword to save his life, but he knows a good book when he sees one.