Story and Art by Gene Ha
Published by Dark Horse Comics
I don’t know you. I mean, odds are, we haven’t met. But I can tell you a few things about your past. When you were a kid, there was a story that captured you. Maybe it was Narnia, maybe it was Oz, maybe it was Labyrinth, but there was a story you went to over and over for adventure and escape. The trope of a child just like you that stumbles into a land wholly different and comes back okay. We all love this, or at least used to. It’s part of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, dialed specifically down to the grade school set. And that’s almost where Gene Ha’s new story starts.
But Gene Ha has something new to say about the genre. Because Mae, his new series, is not about the kid who tumbles through the looking glass. He’s telling the story from the point of view of a young woman who hears that her sister is back in town after nine years of repeated running away. Mae is doing her best to stay grounded, to take good care of her father and his shop, to keep her best friend updated on local gossip while she escapes to college. And in this issue, Mae’s sister Abbie shows up after years of radio silence, decked out in generic cosplay and raving about monsters. And by the end of the issue there’s some fighting and a couple of little dudes straight out of Jim Henson’s workshop, but the point of the story is Mae.
This is original and deep, an exploration of what it’s like to be left behind. Mae seems smart enough, but she’s never going to go to college because she just can’t let her family fall apart any more than it has. She misses her sister in the same way people feel when they finally draw the boundaries between themselves and the loved ones who are lost in addiction or other serious mental illnesses, and her fear of Abbie is heartbreaking and true. I loved pretending to be Alice or Dorothy or that whiny girl who fought David Bowie when I was little. But this book is about the people those young women left behind, and that’s amazing.
Pick up a copy at Ultimate Comics in Raleigh or Chapel Hill while supplies last!