Ladies of Market Street

Reviewed by JustKay

OverviewIMG_0646_unh7g8

Women fighting back with little context to start and seemingly lots of sex.

Review

Now that I’ve gotten my new review column established and going weekly you’ll also be seeing me take a swing at some of the submissions we get through our website. For that you’ll notice that the majority of how I judge a comic is the same, and I’ll still point out diversity (both where it falls flat and where it succeeds). But instead of being graded on it separately it will be rolled into writing and replaced by novelty. Something that all of the reviewers here at ICR look for when going through submissions. Without further ado lets take a look at ‘Ladies of Market Street’, written by Emily Whitaker and art by Trey Baldwin.

Writing

While its a stereotype that all women in sex work were forced into it, and this does follow that a bit, you can also see them choosing to do it themselves in a far safer environment. I’m not saying there aren’t people who are forced into it the line of work but within the bounds of this comic series it reads a little too heavy on that narrative. But given that since this line of work is illegal in the US, which can lead to some seriously shady characters in it, I’ll give it a pass as it uses it as a staple column in the story. However I will point out that the story itself in this issue is a bit muddled. We seem to start at the end and then jump back in time without context, or without a clear division between past and present. In fact I didn’t even realize it was the past I was reading until we get to the point where it almost loops back around.

IMG_0648_h7bgbmYou aren’t really told anything about the characters accept that one of them has this intense need to protect another that spurs her to go to all these crazy lengths. This lack of definition for the characters leaves them to come off a bit like cut out stereotypes in this issue. Hopefully the creators fill them in more as the series continues, as they are now they don’t really hold any interest for the reader. In fact in the story they are used as little more the sexual objects. Something I’d really hoped this series wouldn’t do. And I’d like to point out before you all get up in a flame war over that statement that there is a difference between sexual objectification and expressing your sexual nature. But this review is neither the time or the place for that discussion.

Art

The art styles exaggerated features and cartoonish vibe let the creators bring some levity on what could otherwise quickly become a rather gritty topic.  I mean the bad guy shown in the first few frames looks like Popeye for gods sake. Though a more twisted version of him but I could fall down that rabbit hole of what happened to Popeye to bring him to this dark place, so lets continue. The choice to leave the inside strictly in black and white was a bad idea though. It dropped the detail and distinctions of the characters that we saw in the colored cover and served to make the story all the more confusing. In actuality while leaving in black and white might have saved them production costs it was another hole in the storytelling that hurt the readers experience, and may in turn hurt their readership and any future sales.

Even here the standard comic font strikes again. Though they make the attempt to Market_Steet_pg_1_wieb3fdistinguish the narration for the dialog through the text bubbles if you aren’t super familiar with comics it would be lost on you. In some areas the bubbles are really small breaking up information into a ton of chunks where its not needed, in others they dump a massive amount of text into one bubble that blocks up large portions of their art. A little bit more planning ahead of time would easily remedy this for any future issues.

Novelty

So I can honestly say I haven’t seen a comic like this before. Its a clear story built around the idea of sex workers taking their power back. Though the story is a bit muddled, as I discussed in the writing section, you kind of catch up to what is going on about midway-ish through the issue. The juxtaposition between the content of the comic and its art style creates this unique playground for the creators to work in to tell the story without it becoming overly gritty or grotesque.

Overall

The art style balances out the writing and the topic to help create a more enjoyable read. However the writing is a little lackluster and leave the reader having to pause and reread to make sure they know what is going on. Though even then it leaves you questioning just what the heck is going on. Standard font and weird chunks of dialogue leading to a readable but sub-par lettering throughout the book. I’d still recommend it for a read but unless we see improvements down the road I wouldn’t put it on your comic pull list.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 6.5/10 [great style for story, B&W bad choice]

Lettering: 5/10 [standard font, weird chunks]

Writing: 6/10 [Muddled, time jumps, and cut outs]

Novelty: 8/10 [Got to say I haven’t seen it before]

Overall: 6.38/10

A More Colorful Review – Bitch Planet

Overview

Women just destroying people in a violent place in preparation for a violent game. They might be locked up on a whole ‘nother planet but these ladies are fixing to throw down and put the hurt on ya. Welcome to Bitch Planet.

download

Review

Up next on the docket is Book 1 of Bitch Planet! (Kind of feels like it always needs an exclamation point afterwards) Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and art by Valentine De Landro. Lets dive right into this girl gangs in space royale.

Writing

I actually really like the way they went about story telling with this series. You are very much being set up for something bigger down the line and are given hints about it every step of the way. Also the fact that you can pay to have your wife sent there just because you wanted to marry your mistress is so majorly f’ed up. But it perfectly sets up your expectations of the universe. Everything in it is so backwards. Truthfully it reads like the most extremely violent version of the Hunger Games you could possible get in space. Its a really fun read and seemed to go by pretty quick so I would recommend just buying the books rather then individual issues as you are really going to want enough at once to sink your teeth into.Penelope

Who is presented as the main character seems pretty interesting. She is definitely not telling us everything about why she is or what her motives are which makes her enticing. The other members of the cast have different hooks for your interest as well though we don’t get to find out alot about most of them. So far we really only know the full background on one of them. Hopefully they’ll use that to their advantage in future issues to give themselves alot of material to play with. I do think that they try to keep what’s going on so mysterious that alot of the other cast comes off as a bit stiff and cardboard cut out like.

Art

The art for the issues is this strange mix of fake 1950’s era fake ad pages and a highly stylized color focused brand. Its not something that I would want to see a ton in comics at all. But it really kind of drags the reader into the mindset of how weird, out of sync, and bizarre this world really is. When people who are brightly colored and heavily outlined are talking about paying to have their wife killed it sends a message to the reader that its just how the world is. An everyday accepted part of it.

TBP3he style becomes even more pronounced anytime we actually see scene on Bitch Planet, giving it an even great atmosphere of this alien place. It actually kind of reminds me of what alot of the movies from the 80’s and 90’s though 2020 would look like. Huge electronic screens indoctrinating people, manipulation of the populace through violence. Its all very well contrasted and I believe adds an extra element to things for the reader.

But of course once again they use the standard comic font for their lettering. Its something that while an industry base line gets very tiring to see all the time. The standard font is easy to read and follow yes, but its really hard to convey how your characters are talking and emphasizing things with it. They are essentially crippling themselves on an element they could have used to pull the reader in even more.

Diversity

Diverse body types? Check. An almost entirely female cast of characters? Check. Diverse ethnicity and race? Check. And while technically it has a lady/lady pair I’m not counting it because it was used in a “we let the guard watch for benefits” way. Probably not the best use of that, at all. But I will give them points for keeping int he prison theme at least.

Overall

This is a very violent look at ourselves as a society. What pitfalls we could run head long into if we gave up certain things, accepted the way things are. It is a very bleak, violent, and eye opening look at a future of a bunch of women who are pissed off enough to do something about it. Reading this series actually turned out to be very cathartic for me especially after all of the political mess happening. Hopefully you’ll let the art and the scary possibilities drag you into it for a little bit to come out the other end ready to fight.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 9/10 [Really did the universe justice]

Lettering: 6/10 [Same font, readable at least]

Writing: 8/10 [Really enjoyed it, loved the characters]

Diversity: 7/10 [Got some right, fell flat hard on queer rep]

Overall: 7.5/10