So with Saga on hiatus and G. Willow Wilson's impressive five-year run on Ms. Marvel over, what's the comic that I most look forward to reading every month? I'm enjoying a lot of comics right now, but not many of them inspire the kind of anticipation that great monthly comics do.
Probably the book I'm most consistently enjoying right now is Giant Days — every issue of this college series is funny and clever and full of boundless compassion for the main characters. As the protagonists draw closer to their last day of university, I'm left worrying what will happen to the book — I don't want to say goodbye to these young women, but I also don't want them to overstay their welcome. This is the kind of push-pull relationship that good comics can bring out in their readers.
But the book that I'm most looking forward to these days — the one that I absolutely can't stop myself from devouring as soon as I buy my weekly comics — is Portland author Chelsea Cain's Man-Eaters.
The plot, as described in the advertising copy for the first issue, sounds like a pretty straightforward sci-fi allegory: "A mutation in Toxoplasmosis causes menstruating women to turn into ferocious killer wildcats—easily provoked and extremely dangerous."
There's a lot to examine in that premise, of course — giving an overt terror to society's fear of women's sexuality puts an interesting spin on these #MeToo times. But the tone is what turns Man-Eaters from a good idea into a great comic.
Cain and her artists — Kate Niemczyk, Lia Miternique, and Stella Greenvoss — use the premise to explore a satirically heightened Portland Oregon in a bunch of interesting ways. The graphic design in this book is incredible. In issue 6 alone, there are great visual riffs on Google Maps, dog food ads, Soviet propaganda, the terrors of a random YouTube page, and medical forms.
And as she follows her cast of young women around a world that hates and fears them, Cain is pulling together themes from all over popular culture, including song lyrics from "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," along with a pretty good Portlandia-style joke and a very funny running gag about comic book colorists. It's not a horror story — that would be too easy, and so thoroughly 1990s — because there's nothing scary about female sexuality. Instead, Man-Eaters is funny and empathetic and inquisitive and energetic.
Man-Eaters is consistently the most surprising, experimental, and humane book I read every month, and for that reason, this is the book that I am most eager to read when new comic book day rolls around.