[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Auntie Mahalia kidnaps Jean-Pierre and punishes him for his abuse and exploitation of Heloise and Giselle. After tormenting him for a while, Mahalia reveals that she intends to let Heloise finish Jean-Pierre for good. Another night arrives, and Mahalia puts out a new girl to watch over the Jook Joint. Heloise arrives and knows that Mahalia took Jean-Pierre. Also, a gay man named Freddy is attacked by a group of bigots, but Mahalia doesn’t allow this to follow through.
Jook Joint #2 proves to be just as interesting, yet uncomfortable, as the initial comic. The justice meted out by Mahalia and her girls is brutal and final. There is no chance for redemption or learning, though one could argue, in the case of Jean-Pierre in particular, that some of these men don’t deserve such a chance.
I can’t say that sentiment is wrong, especially in the case of Jean-Pierre. That said, some of these men did horrible things, but not all of them are things that one cannot come back from.
That’s the fascinating thing about Jook Joint. It takes a revenge fantasy approach to bigots, sexual predators, and abusers, and that hasn’t often been done in fiction–especially in comic books. You’re not entirely sure you should be on the side of Mahalia and the girls either; there are moments where ambiguity is implied.
It’s an interesting and grabbing read, and it’s clearly intended to bring catharsis to a lot of vulnerable people exploited and abused. It’s worth mentioning that the comic opens with a trigger warning as well as various hotline numbers.
It’s also worth mentioning that I’m a white dude and am likely not the main intended audience.
Alitha E. Martinez’s artwork is absolutely beautiful, and it frames all of these events tastefully and effectively. The figure work is especially gorgeous, and it doesn’t shy away from showing natural and human body types. The background work is often impressive too, and each environment is filled and fleshed out. Shari Chankhamma’s color work is gorgeous too, and she plays with the gradient well.
Jook Joint #2 is a compelling and clever continuation to what is growing into a unique take on revenge fantasies. It dives into the worst tendencies of humanity and blurs the lines of morality along the way. It’s a rough and uncomfortable read at times, but I do recommend checking it out for those who think they can stomach it.
Jook Joint #2 comes to us from writer Tee Franklin, artist Alitha E. Martinez, color artist Shari Chankhamma, letterer Taylor Esposito, and cover artist Alitha E. Martinez with Nelson and Shari Chankhamma.