By Zack Quaintance — The inside cover of this comic sports an actual magazine ad, the sort you might see in a magazine like, uh, whatever magazine people still read these days (I really couldn’t think of one...is Time still a thing?). Look closer, though, and you’ll notice the ad is a public service announcement that’s actually set in the world of Man-Eaters, wherein a mutation in humans is causing women to turn into were-cats when they menstrate.
She’s your little princess today, but will she be a monster tomorrow? The add asks, adding: 98% of adolescent females are infected with Toxoplasmosis X. Is your daughter one of them? Get her tested. It’s the law. And below is an actual photo of a young girl playing with a cat, followed by a fine print info box describing the symptoms of the comic’s central disease. It’s a clever way for a book to open, especially one that follows up on the provocative satirical premise laid out by Man-Eaters #1 as well as this comic does.
I, obviously, think this sort of narrative device is effective, or I wouldn’t have gone into such detail describing it, and that’s a good thing, because Man-Eaters #2 uses devices similar to this one often, ranging from intricate tampon instruction pages to lists to quick (and very funny) jump-cut panels that show the gushing blood elevator from The Shining. Writer Chelsea Cain and artist Kate Niemczyk fearlessly interweave these illustrative visuals in with the usual graphic sequential storytelling found comics, using them to both impart info and to continue to set a tone for this book.
This clever use of visuals was everywhere in the first issue, and, indeed, it’s nice to see its use carry over to the second installment. Man-Eaters #2 also remedies an issue I had with the debut of this series. With its premise firmly established, it gets about the business of crafting and interesting and compelling narrative in a way that vests us in our central characters, accomplishing that latter bit mainly by showing us glimpsed of the relatable dynamic between our hero Maude’s divorced parents. There’s a scene with the three of them watching television on the couch. It’s maybe the most understated scene in this entire comic, but, for my money, it also happens to do the most storytelling work. Add on an intriguing (if slightly predictable) cliffhanger twist, and it all adds up to a second issue that has me excited for the future of this comic.
Overall: Man-Eaters #2 continues the clever use of visuals found in its predecessor, while also going into the standard trappings of a good story, mainly character development and a progressing narrative. Cain and Niemczyk are both super-talented storytellers, and they seem in full control of their powers here. 9.0/10
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete one.