Comic Bento February 2015 “Feminine Mystique” Breakdown
In my never ending quest to broaden my nerdy horizons, I happened upon a Loot Crate-esque subscription service called Comic Bento. The general concept is essentially the same: you pay for a monthly (or multi-month) subscription, and every month you receive a box full of nerdy stuff that all fits a specific theme. What differentiates Comic Bento from its more popular counterpart, however, is its contents: while Loot Crate can have everything from books to toys to clothes to magnets to dildoes (maybe?), Comic Bento is exclusively comic book collections. I was very intrigued by the concept and the overwhelmingly positive response from subscribers, so last month, I took the leap and subscribed.
Like I said, every month follows a specific theme. February’s theme was dubbed “Feminine Mystique,” a celebration of some of the badass bitches of the comic world (and no, a Mystique comic was not included; I was surprised, too). As this was my first Comic Bento, I figured I would share my experience with the masses in the hopes of possibly helping anyone who may have been on the fence (and since you will never see my face in front of a camera, an unboxing video is out of the question, sorry).
Now onto the contents. (I apologize in advance for the quality of the pictures. A cell phone camera in a dark room can only do so much.)
1. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
About a year ago, when this new Ms. Marvel was introduced to the world, it was one of the biggest pieces of comic book news in recent memory. The premiere of Marvel’s first headlining Muslim superhero was incredibly huge, and is still making waves today. My interest was piqued, so I bought the first issue.
I only got a few pages in and never went back.
For some reason, the new Ms. Marvel just didn’t grab me. I don’t know if it was my mood at the time of reading, if my tastes were different, I don’t know. But for some reason, I didn’t like it at all.
I was very wrong.
I’ll admit, when I opened my Comic Bento and saw this collection in there, my first thought was “Well, that was a waste of money.” Reluctantly, I read it, if for no other reason than to get the full value of my subscription (that shit isn’t cheap, y’know). And I couldn’t put it down. I don’t know what has changed in me in just the past year, but somehow Kamala Khan does not feel like a comic book character. She feels so real that it scares me to know that she’s not. I never thought that I, a nonreligious white man in my 20s, would connect so much with a 16-year old Muslim girl. But that is simply a testament to the effectiveness of the writing. Kamala is not a character; she is a person. She has insecurities. She doesn’t know everything. She writes fan fiction about the Avengers and is awkward around people and doesn’t get invited to parties. Her superpowers manifest themselves as her body uncontrollably changing during her teen years. Kamala is not a comic book character: she is everyone reading the comic. I wasn’t overly crazy about the art style here, but that is such a minor gripe of an otherwise phenomenal book.
2. Miss Fury Vol. 1 by Rob Williams, Jack Herbert, and Marcio Abreu
did I just read.
I have never heard of Miss Fury before. I’ll admit it, I’m not up to date on my obscure 1940s pulp heroines. I didn’t even know this was a series. But the cover looked badass and the synopsis sounded even cooler, and Dynamite is known for some interesting comics. So I dove in. And I am still not 100% sure of what I read.
I really hate making this complaint because I feel that it impugns my intelligence, but this may have been the most confusing comic book I’ve ever read. I don’t know if it was just me or if others have experienced the same problem, but I was so confused by all of the time-travel bullshit going on in this comic that I honestly couldn’t even describe what happened. At least not the intricacies of it. The art was great, so at least all of the timey-wimey mumbo-jumbo looked nice.
And I can’t knock any comic that gave us this gem of a quote:
“I will wear your gut-flesh as a tunic and vigorously lay with your separated lower half.”
Seriously. I’m not making that up. Look it up. It’s hysterical.
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Vol. 1: The Dust Waltz by Dan Brereton, Hector Gomez, Sandu Florea
Confession time: I’ve never watched a single episode of Buffy. Joss Whedon is very hit or miss for me, and it was just a bit before my time. Fortunately, the way the book was written, you do not have to be a fan of the show to understand what is going on. It certainly would have helped, as references were frequently made to what I can only assume were events from the show, but it was not necessary to enjoy the story. Having said that, sweet fucking Christ, this may have been one of the most cheesy 90s high school cliches I’ve ever seen (in a comic, at least). Seriously, I feel like I should have been wearing a flannel shirt, drinking a Surge, and listening to Collective Soul as I read this. It was that bad. Its 1998 publication date is incredibly apparent. Who knows, maybe I would have liked it more had I been a fan of the show. But having never seen an episode, I can say I will not be coming back to this one.
4. Shutter Vol. 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge, Leila Del Duca, Owen Gieni, and Ed Brisson
Here it is, folks: the reason I read comics. Another comic I had previously never heard of before getting my Comic Bento, Shutter is the story of 27-year old Kate Kristopher, an ex-adventurer whose life is turned upside down when a huge secret is revealed about her dead dad.
Sound generic? Not hardly.
The premise is just vague enough to set up some of the most bizarre, nonsensical, fucking amazing comic book bullshit I’ve ever seen. From bipedal Irish lions dressed as 20s gangsters to a talking, robotic cat alarm clock to skeleton butlers to flying lizard-dragons with skull faces, this may be the biggest bout of mind fuckery you will ever read in a comic. But man… it is good. I mean REALLY good. Like, “I immediately went and bought the rest of the issues” good. The bizarreness is very reminiscent of Saga, another excellent example of how the most absurd bullshit you can think of makes for a great read. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Do yourself a favor and read Shutter. Now.
I was split 50/50 with my first Comic Bento. Ms. Marvel and Shutter were absolutely fantastic, while Miss Fury and Buffy were… less so. Now, I don’t want to evaluate my enjoyment of the Comic Bento service as a whole based on my enjoyment of a few specific books, as everyone has different tastes, so that would not be fair to those with different tastes. I will say that, on the whole, even with the books I wasn’t crazy about, the diversity in the stories while still fitting the overall Feminine Mystique theme was very impressive, and I would definitely recommend Comic Bento to anyone interested. Personally, I would say to get one of the multi-month plans so it is a bit cheaper, as the monthly price is a bit more expensive than I would probably pay again, but hey, that’s just me. The world is your oyster.