Comics Review: Mary by Brea Grant and Yishan Li

Mary, subtitled The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter, is a buffy like YA comics. Except that instead of killing monsters, Mary has the skill to bring them back to health. I am always interested by Mary Shelley’s life and works that base themselves on this amazing woman, so I was very intrigued by that comic and wanted to see what kind of supernatural world it leaned towards.

This is really an introductory story. I can’t say anything much happens, we just meet the characters as they discover their true calling: Mary, the reluctant power wielding adolescent (think gothic Buffy, same attitude but less sporty) and the usual much more enthusiastic and knowledgeable sidekicks. The only Mary Shelly appearance comes in the form of a family that pressures their little Mary to become a writer too, and the famous portrait of the lady herself in the fictional office. I can’t say I was very taken by the story, like I said earlier, nothing much happens except for the usual angst of the reluctant hero, who doesn’t want to help others, until she does.

The drawings serve the story well, all the characters are well designed, in fact I think the illustrator is really good at it. The heroine, her friend and her love interest are all very cute. It is smooth, focused on the expressiveness of the people and helped the volume feel like a TV series. I think lots of teens will like the slick modern American comic look, with a nice realistic colorization.

I really liked that the focus of the comic was on helping people (monsters) and even had a wild animal rehabilitation message. There is no girly squeamishness. The pictures were lovely. I was a bit sad the story was lacking, and I feel like I would need to read more volumes to really make a decision on this work. There is a few interesting historical women quotes, but nothing on Mary Shelley, this is not really important when you have a good story, but I just thought I should point it out to people who were more interested in that.

My real criticism is that the comic didn’t feel like it brought anything really new to the table, lots of clichés (instantaneous love, chosen one, misfit…), which can be fine when whatever story is well treated, but I felt like I just read the intro of a book and was abandoned before the first defining moment of the plot. And the teen characters don’t talk to me as they might to someone of the same age group. As it is I, a young mother, am not very interested, but it could be the Buffy of this generation to some, if the next volume thickens the plot, and adds depth to it’s characters and their relations.

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