Satire and horror have gone hand-in-hand pretty much since Count Dracula began eating peasants (if not earlier). It’s continued through today, with horror acting as a vehicle for satire almost daily. That’s where Man-Eaters #1 from Image Comics takes us, with a twist of dark humor.
The series reunites Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Rochelle Rosenberg, and Joe Carmanga, and adds Lia Miternique, Katie Lane, and Stella Greenvoss to the mix with a look at the near future. It’s the story of Maude Hansen, her dad, and a world not far removed from our own.
A mutated parasite has caused a horrifying change in the world’s girls. At the onset of puberty, upon getting their first menstrual cycle, girls will mutate into killer big cats for the length of their cycle. The world is doing their best to stop it and suppress it, but sometimes it gets through. And that’s the reality the Maude faces on the final page…
Cain jumps headfirst into this story. The satirical illness is horrifying enough (and I’m sure will spawn in-text jokes about periods being bad enough before they became killer cats too). Cain explores more though – dealing with issues of bodily autonomy and sexism from the set go. This is all done with tongue firmly in cheek as well, with some genuinely funny moments and gags.
But it’s not entirely satire. The story is equally gut-punching horror. The mutations are frightening, as are the attacks, including one depicted near the end of the issue that made my jaw drop.
Niemczyk’s work is great. She and Cain don’t miss a beat in the years since Mockingbird’s cancellation. She’s able to depict every joke perfectly, as well as the horrific moments. She also gives us some very fun layouts, using wide shots, instructional manuals, fake magazine covers and other tricks to immerse us in the world.
Rosenberg’s colors also add to the atypical feel here. She uses bright colors and pastels, avoiding the dystopian feel we might have expected. It actually means that the story DOESN’T feel like a dystopia until the last few pages, when you suddenly realize it is. It’s a great effect Niemczyk and Rosenberg accomplish together.
This book isn’t going to be for everyone, and it’s going to be hard to describe. But, this is a great horror story, and the messages we’re going to get with it are icing on the cake.
Man-Eaters #1 is available now from Image Comics.