[Review] Re-Gifters and Clubbing.

Dear readers, how are you? I am successfully moved to Melbourne, Australia, where I am drinking my way through the local wine shop’s chardonnays and laughing immoderately every time I spot a landmark from Ghost Rider. Also, thanks to a marvelous RSC performance of King Lear, I have seen Magneto’s penis.
Comics! They enrich my life, and now they have enriched yours.
I was going to spend this week talking about why I don’t simply dismiss Tarot: Witch of The Black Rose as ridiculous self-insertion porn that is not my cup of tea and do in fact rather despise it, but my new local comic book store doesn’t stock it*. They do, however, stock the DC Minx line, and my qualms about the name notwithstanding, I’ve been very curious to see what DC thinks a line of ‘comics for girls’ should be like.
If Re-Gifters, (Mike Carey, Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel) and Clubbing (Andi Watson and Josh Howard) are any indication, DC thinks like I do.
Re-Gifters:Jen Dik Seong, a.k.a Dixie, a Californian Korean-American teenager, wants to win both the national hapkido tournament and the heart of fellow practioner Adam. The trouble is, her crush on Adam keeps putting her off her game. Must she choose between love and victory? Can she have both? Or neither?
This is no drippy teen romance story. It’s a realistic and moving tale about a spiky, aggressive girl keen on competition and doing, as teenagers do, impulsive, stupid things for less-than-noble reasons in the struggle to please her parents, her friends, herself, and her would-be boyfriend. It all turns out unexpectedly well, but cuts no corners in the journey to a happy ending.
Carey’s plotting is tight and fast-paced, and Liew’s art is kinetic, conveying all the speed and intensity of the many martial arts match-ups. But it’s the characterization that really shines: complex, nuanced, diverse characters who speak and read like real teenagers.
I love this book wicked hard, and I want you to love it too. Highly recommended.
Note: A later review from someone much more familiar than I am with Korean and Korean-American culture has pointed out some disturbing cultural gaffes in Re-Gifters. I recommend you read her review, and keep that perspective in mind when you consider this one.
Charlotte Brook, who is spending the summer at her grandparents’ country home for the youthful sin of forging an ID card, expected to be ‘lazing around and laconically observing the yokels’. Instead she’s put to work at the local pro golf shop.
As the book opens, Lottie is a little snot an arrogant, lying, manipulative brat who hastens to assure the reader that she ‘wouldn’t normally hang out with hayseed goths.’ But she’s also quick-witted and forebearing, more inclined to snarking than sulking when presented with yet another activity she doesn’t really want to do.
Then she and the local young golf champion stumble across a body on the golf course, and it’s time for Lottie to grow up and save the day; tasks she accomplishes with admirable style. I shan’t spoil the story, other than to point out that despite the cover copy, Lottie’s tale isn’t a straight mystery. Clubbing has a supernatural twist to please the more speculative-fiction fan, and all the charm of the traditional English crime story.
These Minx teenagers ring true. They’re bold, independent young women, prone to error and confusion and occasionally calamitous mistakes, but with the courage and integrity to set right what they can. They’re not role models, but reflections. And though neither Dixie nor Charlotte use the word, in their stubborn defiance of traditional roles for women, they’re feminists. These girls refuse artificial limitations.
If heroines and titles like these are the norm, Minx is going to become one of my all-time favourite comics lines.
*Comics R Us on Bourke St. Drop in if you’re ever in that part of the world.