The second issue of Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons, written by Tony Wolf, illustrated by Joao Vieira, coloured by Josan Gonzales, and published by Jet City Comics, is even more Steampunk than the first. For starters, there is Uncle Edward’s instruments he designed to increase health by the use of electricity and lights. I will have to write a complementary post about Edward William Barton-Wright CE and M.J.S. later this week, detailing what each of those lovely gadgets are actually for. And we get a tantalizing glimpse of another laboratory that might be even more interesting.
This issue is just as exciting as the first episode, and there is certainly an excellent build-up to who the real villains are and what they are hoping to achieve. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I can hint that the main conflict in the story is created by the misuse of Darwin’s theories. The villains takes misogyny and ramp it up to create a truly horrific situation; one that will leave readers eager to obtain the third issue to see the resolution of the situation in which our heroines find themselves.
It is commonly thought that the second part of a trilogy is the weakest in storytelling and action. I can guarantee that this is certainly not the case with this issue. There is plenty of action, for starters. The art is still outstanding, with the use of line and colour to perform small miracles on each page. As with the first issue, it is the careful use of detail that really makes the artwork special. I particularly like the panels where our protagonist is away with the fairies; this is a perfect example of liveliness and gentle humour the illustrator puts into his work.
The humour can subtle, in both the illustrations and the text. The use of green, violet and white crops up in unexpected places in the artwork. Only a historian would get some of the references, visual and textual. You don’t have to know the era to get all of the humour, but it helps. I certainly felt clever when I made some connections to the historical details I’ve used in my own Steampunk narratives.
I think the only weakness here is that the characterizations of the villains relies too much on stereotypes. The villains are rather two dimensional and unrelievedly evil. I would have preferred to see more depth given to the bad guys and their motivations, but I concede that there is probably not enough room to cover everything in the restricted space of the graphic novel. However, their mission is rather interesting and unique, and makes perfect sense within the era that this narrative is set.
My anticipation grows as the release date for the third issue approaches. This graphic novel has hit all the marks, with great writing, brilliant art, and the use of historical people and settings to add resonance and interest to the details of both. As a feminist, I appreciate the use of Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons as the protagonists, but the audience for this book shouldn’t be limited to Steampunk Enthusiasts or Feminists. I believe that anyone who enjoys a good yarn, well told, will be entertained by this graphic novel.