With the previous two issues of Man-Eaters I was faced with something that I had run into several times in my comics-reading lifetime. This was a series that I could acknowledge was GOOD, but that I just wasn’t totally enjoying. With Man-Eaters #3, I was able to put my finger on it a little better.
Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Carmagna pick up pretty much where last issue left off. In doing so, it’s a much more brisk and exciting story.
A transform panther-girl is still on the loose in Portland. As Maude’s parents are on its trail, Maude herself is coping with the onset of puberty (and the possibility that she might be one of the cat-monsters). Meanwhile, we get a little more of Maude’s back-story and the extreme sexist attitudes the monsterfying disease has created. That back-story though reveals that the adults may have a LOT more to fear than we believed.
To be straightforward, I enjoyed this issue a lot more than the previous two. Don’t get me wrong, I liked those issues, and my reviews made it clear that I did. Where the previous two issues were a lot heavier on the satirical comedy side of the premise, this issue leans into the horror side much more. The satire and comedy are both still there, and are both just as sharp and biting, but they land much better in this issue thanks to leaning into the scary more.
Another strong point in Cain’s script this issue is the depiction of Maude. She takes a step forward from simply being a snarky narrator to being a nuanced protagonist/revolutionary. Her actions in the flashback scenes suddenly reframe her as a much more complex character than the more passive bystander who may also be a monster that we saw the last two issues.
Niemczyk and Rosenberg work hand in hand through the issue. In the present day scenes, the tension is high thanks to Niemczyk’s work with camera angles, body language and facial expressions, and Rosenberg’s play with lighting, effects and mood. In the flashback, they depict scenes much more straightforward and standard, which makes the horrific truth about those pages land so much better.
I don’t often call out a letterer’s work in reviews, because it often takes me two to three reads to notice tricks and highlights. However, Joe’s work stands out on the first read in a good way. A lot of Cain’s jokes are text based, and Joe plays with sound effects, fonts, balloon placement and such in ways that really makes it all land that much better.
After two strong issues that still didn’t quite land for me, I’m glad how much I enjoyed this issue. I’m looking forward to the next issue, and what the revelations of this issue mean for the series as a whole.
Man-Eaters #3 is available now from Image Comics.