Book: Mystic (Vol. 2) #1 (of 4)
Publisher: Marvel, under the Crossgen imprint
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Pencils: David López
Inks: Álvaro López
Colors: Nathan Fairbarn
Cover: Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts
Release Date: Aug. 4, 2011
Comic books about women are relatively rare. Comic books about female friendships are almost unexistent–Strangers in Paradise is the one that immediately comes to mind*, as does Birds of Prey, but I’d have to dig rather deeply to find any others, and I’m a pretty big fan of comics–maybe Betty & Veronica? In any case, given the scarcity of such books, it’s encouraging to see that Mystic #1, by Crossgen via Marvel, is really good.
Although I was a pretty big fan of Crossgen way back in its original incarnation, I never got into the original Mystic, so I can’t really tell whether or not it sticks to its original premise and set-up (there’s certainly a lot less skin–compare this issue’s cover with those of the original series); my guess is that while it’s not Mystic In Name Only like Sigil was, it’s not something you could consider a proper continuation of the original series like Ruse**, either. The set-up here is this: Giselle and Genevieve are orphans in the steampunk-meets-magic world of Hyperion. Romantic Genevieve dreams of surpassing the limits imposed into her by class and being chosen to become a royal apprentice of the Noble Arts at the palace; headstrong, practical Giselle would just like to escape their dreary orphanage and its tyrannical overseer. After their latest unauthorized excursion into their Mistress’ private library is discovered, they decide to take their lives into their own hands, and the plot begins.
Most of the issue is spent establishing the characters of the two protagonists, and writer G. Willow Wilson–whom I’d never heard of before, but now wish I had–does an excellent job with that. I particularly like that both girls are presented as being bookish and curious and smart, even as they’re smart in different ways. The relationship rings true, and does a good job of setting the reader up for the last page development, on which the whole series hinges. The dialogue is suitably punchy and works, for the most part–Genevieve sounds too overwritten at parts, and I’m not quite sure if it’s supposed to be an intentional affectation or not.
While I’m unfamiliar with Wilson’s work, the same cannot be said for David López art, which I’ve loved since Fallen Angel and continues to rock here. His expressions and body language, in particular, are fantastic–there’s a page near the end of the book consisting of a nine-panel grid, each featuring a prospective Noble Arts Apprentice as zie is asked a question about the history and laws of Hyperion; in the space of one panel, each of these extras (at least here–we may see some of them later) is made to feel like an individual, distinct, and interesting character. The pencils are well complemented with inks by Álvaro López and colors by Nathan Fairbarn.
All in all, this is a fantastic book, one which I wish had, like Ruse, been better marketed, as it’s the kind of all-ages girl-friendly books that I feel the big 2 need to focus on more if they are to truly increase their reader base: I could see this really appealing to fans of Young Adult literature, and I hope the rest of the mini-series maintains this level of quality.
* Caveat: Given that most friendships between females in Strangers in Paradise appear to end in sexual relationships, it may not be the best example ever, when taken as a complete work.
** Y’know, if you ignore that whole “Emma has superpowers and secretly watches over Simon as part of a game she plays with a mysterious higher power” business.