By Zack Quaintance — There’s a fantastic sense of freedom in Man-Eaters #1. The book is written by Chelsea Cain and drawn by Kate Niemczyk, a duo that last teamed together for Marvel Comics’ Mockingbird. I really enjoyed that comic, which was an engrossing puzzle box of a superhero story that also hinted (somewhat controversially...but I won’t get into that nonsense) at the themes in this book.
Mockingbird, however, addressed those themes subtly, putting superheroics at its forefront pretty much at all times. Man-Eaters #1, though, has the liberating benefit of being a straight satire. The book has mystery, action, and even a touch of body horror, to be sure, but all of those qualities grow from the story’s foundational poignancy, rather than having it be the other way around. The result is an unencumbered creative team firing with all its strength, and, simply put, it’s fantastic.
Visually, this comic is brimming with small details and gags that reward careful readers. Pencil Shoppe...Hand-Sharpened While You Wait!, an unseen kid labeled The Intern In Charge of Social Media., a Bitch Planet poster on the wall in a bedroom, etc. Niemczyk is a big talent, with clean and precise linework on characters and in backgrounds. There’s an eclectic two-page splash early in this book that sets the tone for the strength of the visuals to come, as well as for how much attention should be devoted to each panel, lest readers miss out on the details included for them by the creators.
And these visual gags in the early pages go a long way toward making the hefty amount of exposition we get up front story palatable. It’s not that big of a deal—stories with younger protagonists have a long tradition of heroes talking directly to the audience, introducing readers to the world the same way kids in real life explain things—but it’s still noticeable. The young protagonist and her narrative voice are both immediately likable, and the world and concept of this comic are more than interesting enough to make this comic engaging. In the end, this book is really well-done and smart, ending with a fantastic last page cliffhanger, as all great #1 issues should.
Essentially, Man-Eaters #1 did a fantastic job setting up its characters, world, and plot points, and I’m excited to see what the creative team will do with it all moving forward.
Overall: A smart and searingly clever satire, Man-Eaters #1 is a great setup for a comic that has important things to say. Visually, this book is a total treat, packing rewarding details and entertaining gags for careful readers into most of its panels. This comic gets a full endorsement. 8.5/10
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