The Jook Joint is a club deep in the swamps where one can have their every desire fulfilled. It’s run by Mahalia, a woman of power and grace. People often go to Mahalia for help when sickness or violence enter their lives. Mahalia has strange and wonderful abilities. No matter how freeing the Jook Joint is meant to be, people still often try to subvert its rules, and Mahalia and her girls do not hesitate to retaliate against men who force themselves upon the girls of the Jook Joint.
Jook Joint #1 poses an intriguing and almost uncomfortable premise for its readers. The titular club is a place of freedom and safety for the local women, but, even here, men attempt to take advantage of the women there. Plus, Mahalia looks out for the women of the area that do not frequent the club.
It comes off like a revenge fantasy at times, and those can often be very cathartic and emotional reads. Mahalia herself is a survivor of domestic abuse. That said, the girls and Mahalia herself are often portrayed as violent and menacing; their retribution is so brutal that it’s difficult to feel that every inch of it is warranted.
It’s a difficult comic to talk about, as it tackles many harsh subjects with an eagerness that seems to intend to leave the reader uncomfortable. It’s not entirely clear whether Mahalia is an outright heroic figure, but you sympathize with where she comes from and what the Jook Joint is intended to be. Plus, the men they target are predators and far from worthy of their own sympathy.
Alitha E. Martinez provides gorgeous artwork that renders the setting and its characters impeccably. The Jook Joint has a visual personality all its own, Mahalia carries herself like a woman of power and authority, and the scenes of gore straddle the line of disquieting and hard-to-watch. Shari Chankhamma’s color work is beautifully blended and well-balanced.
Tee Franklin has created something fascinating and engaging as all hell with Jook Joint #1. It is a book meant to leave you uncomfortable, yet desperate to read more, and it is very effective in this mission. Combine her script with the gorgeous artwork of Martinez and Chankhamma, and you have a book well worth a recommendation if you can stomach the more uncomfortable portions.
Jook Joint #1 comes to us from writer Tee Franklin, artist Alitha E. Martinez, color artist Shari Chankhamma, letterer Taylor Esposito, cover artists Martinez with Chankhamma, and variant cover artists Mike Hawthorne with Jordie Bellaire.