Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Art: Ariela Kristantina
Release Date: 9th December, 2015
It’s an interesting time in the world of comics. In recent years, there has been some long-overdue focus on just how marginalised females in the industry are, both as employees in the various fields and as the subject of stories. The upshot of this is that we are now enjoying something of a refreshing and exciting renaissance in the industry. Kelly Sue DeConnick made us fall in love with Captain Marvel (#carolcorps till I die). We’re all rooting for the inmates of Bitch Planet to overthrow the Fathers. Marjorie Liu has invited us on a journey of female empowerment with Monstress. InSEXts… is a wee bit different. This time we’re looking through the eyes of the women scorned. Oh. Hell. Yes.
Fair warning though, this is not a comic for everyone. It’s explicit, sexual, and some people might take offence to that content. It’s not gratuitous for the sake of it, the sex is actually integral to the story. The clue is in the title, what do insects do? They eat, reproduce, kill, and exist in a primarily matriarchal society. Now apply those conditions to a battered wife in Victorian England. A battered wife, now barren after several still births, finds solace in the arms of her lover, her chambermaid. It’s her lover who offers a solution to the problems of her abusive husband, of her inability to produce children, and it all starts with a kiss….
Marguerite Bennett (Earth 2: Worlds End, Angela: Queen of Hel) has crafted an interesting story here. It’s hard not to get drawn in to what is happening because everything is (literally) laid bare. There is no doubt that Lady Bertram is an abused wife clinging to her lover. There is no doubt when she makes the decision to take what Mariah offers, and no remorse after. There is no hesitation on what they have become, nor what they plan to do now. It’s refreshing. The bond between Lady Bertram and Mariah reminds me of Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers. There is no doubt in the manner of how they feel for each other, and yet there is a coldness in the manner of how they act. Again, this is a suggestion of the change in them from the bond they now share.
The artwork by Ariela Kristantina (Death of Wolverine, Deep State) is sensational. She has a wonderful messy style that forms a great final product. I checked out her Deviant Art and Instagram posts and I can say without uncertainty I am now a fully paid-up fan. Her art for InSEXts is so sensual, with voluptuous and flowing lines. It’s like an endorsement for Marguerite Bennett’s script, and a competent foil. While it oozes with sex, there is also an insectile and phallic notion in the background that makes you feel… a little uneasy. If Marguerite’s words are the body, then Ariela’s images are the soul, it’s a great symbiosis.
InSEXts, I believe, will be quite a divisive title for Aftershock. I foresee perhaps as much clamour as praise for the title, and for a new company… well, what’s that saying? No publicity is bad publicity? This reviewer is most certainly a part of the praise camp; I’m excited by this story, even if I do find it a little creepy. The fact I find it a little creepy is the point, so ladies, job done, you have my attention. Now, remind me to never, ever, cross my wife.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.