More Comics Please! is a space for comic book reviews: think of it like a friend telling you about their latest read! Today’s comics are She Said Destroy TP, Between Sand & Sea, and Demon in the Wood: A Shadow and Bone Graphic Novel.
Trigger Warning: anti-Blackness, colonization, genocide, threats of suicide as a weapon, murder
She Said Destroy TP is a space opera spin on Irish goddesses and legends.
What It’s About
“The Morrigan, Goddess of Death, is the last thing standing between her sister Brigid and total domination of the solar system. As their forces prepare for a final battle, the Morrigan must destroy everything to save anything.
Over millenniums, Brigid, Goddess of the Sun, has conquered and converted the entire solar system into worshipping her and her alone, save one space colony. The witches of Fey are the last believers of The Morrigan, Goddess of Death, Brigid’s sister and the only other God left. As Brigid’s forces prepare for one final battle, The Morrigan prepares to do what she does best: Destroy!”
Let me start with a little bit of backstory for those who may be unfamiliar:
Ireland was brutally colonized by the English for a long time. We’re familiar enough with this, I think, that we don’t need to go into great detail how the English fucked the Irish people over and how Christianity decimated so much of the Irish culture and stories. Let it suffice to say that the Irish stories that remain today are a sign of both the corrupting force of white English Christianity and the resilience and adaptivity of the Irish people.
Christians twisted and consumed Irish stories to the point where experts frequently say that we can’t ever know for sure if the stories we hear today are what were told by pre-Christian Irish. This is relevant to this review because that’s one of the themes of the book: Christianity and its devotionists literally slaughtering the other gods who refuse to convert to Christianity, and eventually Brigid, never to return.
The Morrigan and Brigid are two well known women in Irish lore, each woman powerful and brutal in her own way.
Spoiler Note: I will be talking at length about the issues I have with this comic, and some of that will spoil some things. If you’re really keen to read the comic, you should probably skip this review and check out the next two in this issue.
I have had to rewrite this review a few times because this book made me so angry when I read it.
In She Said Destroy TP, the Morrigan is squared off against Brigid in this comic. Brigid is shown to have converted willingly (albeit “without joy”) to fighting for the Christian side of this war, making her way through the solar system and murdering countless numbers of people who refuse to subject themselves to Christianity and eventually to herself as the one true god, to give up their ways of life. This is representative of the white English imperialism and the white supremacy it embraces that subjugated Ireland for centuries.
It’s well known that white supremacy has been one of, if not THE, most negatively impactful creations the world has ever known. The people engaging in its values, whether passively or actively, have been responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against humanity in history, alongside the global exploitation and depletion of resources on a scale that has brought the planet’s entire way of existing thus far to the brink of death.
So for me to pick up a modern retelling of the Morrigan and Brigid and to see the face of that evil being represented by a Black woman? With Issue #1 published in 2019? In a time of globally surging anti-Blackness, ethnonationalism, fascism, and anti-immigrant sentiment? In a time where fascists regularly decry Black people in particular as a danger to the white and Western way of being? Was enraging.
I’m angry that so many people were involved in the creation of this book, and not one of them seems to have stopped and asked themselves if doing this was a good idea.
I’m sure some people will think I’m making a big deal of this for no reason. But I think it’s crucial to be critical of the stories that are sold to us, particularly during times of resurging white supremacist propaganda. It comes down to questions for me:
- Why is this the story they chose to tell?
- Why was it necessary for a Black woman to be the villain in a story that is essentially the representation of white, Christian, English colonization’s evils?
- Why wasn’t the story about a white man or woman committing these evils?
- What was stopping them from using a white woman turning on her kin to save her own neck as the story?
- Whose narrative does this serve, regardless of intention?
- Why did they choose to tell this story this way during a time that so many white people, particularly those in power, are increasing their rhetoric that racially marginalized people are “replacing” them?
- What is there to gain by pushing this narrative?
- Why did they choose to contribute to this narrative? And why at this time?
And before someone assumes I haven’t considered it, I’m sure it’s possible they weren’t thinking about this at all when they made it. Maybe they just thought, hey, sun goddess + we need diversity in our book with a blonde white girl at the lead, so let’s make Brigid Black!
But even if that were the case, it’s still not okay, and it’s still emblematic of the problem of white supremacy.
I have other problems with this book, too, but this is the biggest one for me, and frankly, I think it’s reason enough to cover here.
I had so many issues with this book that I read the first half and only skimmed the second half for the sake of this review, hoping they would prove me wrong. But alas.
It’s for that reason that I’m choosing not to include my usual links on where to find the book and sample pages from the book.
I give She Said Destroy TP 0 out of 5 speech bubbles: I actively hated this book, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
Trigger Warning: Animal death (non-graphic)
Between Sand & Sea explores themes of belonging and self and being drawn to the home that’s inside of you. It’s absolutely lovely with a beautiful color palette and illustrations.
What It’s About
“A call to the sea, a call to the shore, a call home. When their family leaves the coast, a youth struggles with life away from the only home they know. Their longing calls the sea inland until a choice must be made, tide the changes this brings, or chart an uncertain path to find what it means to come home.”
What Worked for Me
✦ The art of this comic is so beautiful! C.A.P. Ward invites us to slow down and savor the details of each scene with their
✦ I think this story is something many of us can relate to– feeling like we’re out of place somewhere and feeling drawn to our true home. I can definitely relate to that in multiple ways from my own life, and I enjoyed seeing this done with the ocean.
✦ I LOVED that the father was the person who gave birth to the child! That was genuinely such a special portrayal to see, and I’m grateful that C.A.P. included this kind of representation.
✦ The relationship between father and child was very sweet; the care the two have for each other is obvious and omnipresent, even when things are difficult. I’m always glad to see this supportive kind of relationship in comics, especially with queer narratives.
✦ I loved the giant bird horse creature that looks like a sea bird griffin or pegasus– so cool! And the gulls!
✦ The way C.A.P. Ward plays with panels and negative space makes me so happy. There was such a lovely flow and movement to the whole comic.
✦ It was cool to see the language of the sea being done entirely in visuals, too; it was perfect for comics and for this story of figuring out things that don’t always have words.
✦ Mild spoilers follow:
✦ I love the reunification with the ocean and the person who helps facilitate that. The way the person phrased the invitation to return was so moving to me. It was a deep sense of belonging.
✦ I appreciate the message of making your own home your own way. I think a lot of us are forced to go through this in painful ways, maybe in ways that are forced upon us, and it was nice to see a positive outcome from this.
What Didn’t Work for Me
✦ I dono if it was something with my specific file, but there was some pixelation throughout the comic that impacted the lettering, too. It did take me out of the moment a bit, but it wasn’t anything that would keep me from reading this multiple times!
✦ Spoilers follow:
✦ I was a little confused by the relationship with the merperson at the end of the comic. At first, I thought they might be family, but then there seemed to be a romantic aspect to the relationship, so I felt a little thrown.
✦ The end of the comic felt just a bit rushed and unclear. I was surprised when the reconnection with the father lasted for only a single panel on one page and another on the next page, and I had to go back to reread it a few times to try to understand what happened. I think I figured it out in the end, but I’d be grateful for a little more clarity.
I give Between Sand & Sea 4 out of 5 speech bubbles: I really enjoyed this comic and think you should definitely pick up a copy for yourself!
How to Read It
Interested in checking it out for yourself? Head on over to C.A.P. Ward’s Ko-Fi shop for a digital copy of Between Sand & Sea!
Read This Next
Trigger Warning: Mass murder and attempted murder
What It’s About
“Discover the origin story of the Darkling in this beautifully illustrated, first-ever Grishaverse graphic novel. Before he became the Darkling, Eryk was just a lonely boy burdened by an extraordinary power. The dangerous truth is that Eryk is not just a Grisha—he is the deadliest and rarest of his kind.
With stunning illustrations and raw emotion, peer into the shadows of the Darkling’s past and discover why he has always been feared by those who wish to destroy him and hunted into hiding his true abilities.
But even in this villain origin story, wicked secrets are destined to reveal themselves . . .”
What Worked for Me
✦ I appreciated that this comic didn’t require me to be familiar with the rest of the novel series in order to follow along. That said, I’m sure people who have read the Shadow and Bone series probably get more out of the story than I did; there were a lot of references in there that seemed to allude to details in the novels.
✦ The art in here was very pretty and helped carry the story a lot. I think this is an example where the illustrations felt stronger than the story itself.
✦ The lettering was easy to read, plenty of space and not too crammed in.
✦ The color palette was a lovely selection of cool tones; I liked the way they came together and how it emphasized scenes throughout the story, as well as the cold environment the book takes place in.
✦ I really enjoy how Dani Pendergast illustrates landscapes and nature; it feels organic and inviting. I think this was especially helpful since the story takes place largely in the wilderness lol
✦ There were some moments where I felt the panels were really striking; I just wish that had carried throughout the whole book.
What Didn’t Work for Me
✦ My fellow white people using the word “darkling” as a word, especially as a word for a person who is eventually going to be evil, rubs me the wrong way 😐 Since my eyes tend to skip around in paragraphs, I didn’t even notice its use until I was pasting the jacket copy of the book onto this review. If I had realized that from the start, I probably wouldn’t have read the book, to be honest.
✦ The story was just okay for me. It didn’t really feel like something new, memorable, or innovative, and I felt like it read like exactly what it was: a novel adapted into a comic. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but it just felt like a novel trying to add pictures to itself.
✦ The story was also very predictable. I’m the audience member who is always surprised at every turn of a story and can never figure out what’s going to happen next, so if I’m finding something easy to figure out in advance, then the story is way too predictable.
✦ While I understood the need to demonstrate the fact that Eryk’s life revolved around repetition of repeating cover stories and practicing control over his magic, it became tedious to be beaten over the head with it for so long. I think this is an example where the novel-feeling comes in. The author seems determined to demonstrate with words that which could be conveyed better in the comics medium visually.
✦ There really needed to be a better balance of visual storytelling with the narrative overall. The illustrations were pretty, yes, but there isn’t much happening on the pages visually. For example, there’s a page when Eryk is answering that he doesn’t have a favorite color while he’s mentally reciting the colors of places he’s visited: “Deep blue like the True Sea. Red like the roofs of the Shu temples. The pure, buttery color of sunlight– all the colors you can’t see in the dark.”
It would have been so much stronger to see those places rather than read the white text on a black background! This frustrating lack of visual storytelling makes it feel like a chore to continue reading.
I give Demon in the Wood 2 out of 5 speech bubbles: it was an okay book with some pretty art. It’s not something I’m interested in continuing to follow, and while I wouldn’t recommend it to others, I also wouldn’t necessarily discourage people from reading it.
How to Read It
Interested in checking it out for yourself? Here are a few ways you can get your hands on a copy!
Hardcovers provide higher royalties for writers and illustrators, but a royalty is a royalty, so go forth knowing your purchase will support them either way!
Read This Next
That concludes this month’s issue of More Comics Please! What did you think of today’s comics? Have you read any yourself? Are you itching to go check these out now? Let me know in the comments!
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