Creators: Chelsea Cain & Lia Miternique
Writer: Chelsea Cain
Cover Design/Supplemental Art: Lia Miternique
Artist: Kate Niemczyk
Colourist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Poem & Post-It Lettering: Eliza Fantastic Mohan
Haiku: Emily Powell
Additional Interior Art: Stella Greenvoss
When Maneaters first started a few years back I immediately fell in love with the series. The first two trades (or eight issues, however you want to count it) made for a great read with a strong message and some points well made. I’m not sure if it was the change in artists or the difference in tone with Chelsea Cain’s writing but I didn’t make it through the final four issues. So Maneaters: The Cursed seemed like a great opportunity to give the series another chance.
Maneaters: The Cursed catches up with fifteen year old Maude as her parents send her away to Craft Camp while they head off to Carmel-By-The-Sea for a romantic getaway. Craft Camp just so happens to be on an island off the Oregon coast that no parents have ever been to, and there seem to be something strange going on at night on that island.
This feels like a nice reintroduction to Maude and her parents, with a new set of supporting characters and different settings for them all to interact with. My first impression is that this issue feels quite standalone – providing you know the basis of the world – and I’m assuming the rest of The Cursed will continue in this way.
While I think this could be a jumping on point, or as it was for me a way to return to the series, I don’t think this is a perfect first issue. There’s some interesting ideas introduced and the idiosyncratic world of Maneaters very much remains intact. However, the pacing of this issue leaves a lot to be desired. It isn’t until the last handful of pages that we get any hint of what the hook might be for this story arc, with everything that comes beforehand feeling a little bit like a check in on characters just for the sake of it. There’s some interesting details thrown in that feel like they’re bordering on making a statement about…something, whereas the previous volumes of the series felt like they knew exactly what they were getting at, I can’t help but feel like the intentions are less well defined here.
Although the writing might not seem entirely thought out there’s no denying that the rest of the creative team is on top form from start to finish. Kate Niemczyk’s artwork is as great as ever and brilliantly complimented by Rachelle Rosenberg’s colouring. Each character feels unique and well designed, cartoonish in all the right ways while never failing to convey emotion. If I had any complaints to make in terms of the art it would be that the inclusion of the Airbnb page and a full page camp registration form breakup the flow of the issue. I understand that this is the kind of design choice that has been made throughout the series, but while previous examples – the Catfight issue in particular – have served as world building, I don’t really see anything that makes these inserts deserving of full pages.
I’m going to stick with Maneaters: The Cursed as I’m interested to see where the series is heading, but I’m already suspecting that this will read better in trade as the problems with pacing will likely be much less noticeable.