by Matt Puddy
Mae is a brand new title from Dark Horse written and drawn by Gene Ha, who some of you might know from a few DC projects like Blackest Night or Flashpoint: Project Superman. The other notable mention for Ha and this comic is that Dark Horse selected his work after he successfully crowdfunded the project through Kickstarter in a mere 36 hours!
With that in mind it does make for an exciting read before you’ve even gotten to the first page. Mae opens with a retrospective, stepping nine years into the past. Mae is left wondering what has happened as Abbie has once again run away. Concerned for her sister, Mae sneaks into her room to try and find clues as to where she might have gone this time. A diary, a hint, anything that might help her is what she is looking for - instead she unwittingly stumbles onto artifacts and individuals she doesn’t realise will change her life.
Skipping forward to the present day, we find Mae with her best friend at a coffee shop. Little do either of them know that next door is something sinister as well. After a bit of friendly chit chat the girls decide to move on. Casually continuing conversations with random geeky comments thrown, in they barely notice the anomalies around them. You can really see Ha’s artwork popping things into the frames as extra details in a Whizzer and Chips style, it's a nice little touch.
Everything seems mundane, including the run in with a local bully, but the story ramps up when there’s a call from the local sheriff. Abbie is in trouble, in jail and even more importantly, back. She’s been missing for years with no explanation, and the truth of it is a little more outrageous. Worlds are beginning to collide, and for Mae it’s her missing sister that’s caught up in the middle of it.
As stories go it’s not a unique one, but it is portrayed with a slight twist. Its delivery is also gentle, meaning that it's suitable for a wide range of ages, and is essentially a very easy read. I think what has also helped is that I am currently listening to Locke and Key, another fantasy based graphic novel series, and worth checking out.
The artwork is what really sets this comic apart though. Ha’s work is very distinct and as such may polarise opinions between readers. On the most part I am in the “like” camp. There are occasional blips in perspective and so things do look a little weird but it’s easily balanced out against some of the fantastic frames. The last page is a great example of this. After doing a bit of research it’s easy to understand why as Ha has a very specific process in the production of his work. He is very much an involved artist.
Overall this is a comic that looks fantastic and is a great read. For anyone wanting something new to try that isn’t your run-of-the-mill super story and adds a good injection of fantasy into the comic, then you can’t really go too wrong with this new start.
Matt is looking forward to seeing what the new X-men bring to the big screen. Apocalypse or bust!