ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Man-Eaters,’ Vol. 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Maneaters

Man-Eaters is published by Image Comics, written by Chelsea Cain, with pencils and inks from Kat Niemczyk, colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, and letters from Joe Caramagna.  Volume one of the series consists of Maneaters #1-4 and some extra reading materials at the end that build out the world even more.

As a series, Man-Eaters follows Maude, a young girl going through puberty in a world where periods are a thing of the past. However, this isn’t a natural evolution but a government-sanctioned ban on menstruation enacted by pumping the water full of hormones levels of estrogen and progesterone that are used to stop ovulation in birth control pills. Why is the government controlling young girls bodies? When girls start their periods they turn into maneating werepanthers due to a dormant disease kicked on by the hormones that cause ovulation.

Now, this plot is out there but it is well delivered, well written, and the mixing of mediums between fake advertisements, textbook pages, government documents, magazine covers, and the comic panels themselves builds out a world so cohesively that you become completely immersed. The way that these different media together in a seamless fashion puts you in Maude’s world, headspace, and ultimately makes this world of werepanthers real.

As much as the world of Maneaters is well built, it is the character of Maude that really jumps off the page. Getting your first period can be scary but tie in the fact that this means you’re probably a creature capable of ripping apart your entire family — which the art shows in detail — makes it that much scarier.

Not only is Maude coming of age in a Gingersnaps way, but her father is a detective and her mother works for the agency tasked with capturing the “big cats.” With a new rash of maneating murders popping up, the reader begins to suspect that maybe Maude is behind it.

The story itself is a beautiful kind of bonkers. Learning that the reason Maude has gone against the grain of her society is that she just wants to drink water without hormones – Estropure, sparkling water for boys to protect them from the estrogen in the water supply – is so mundane that it works to highlight the absurdity around her. She just wants to enjoy the same autonomy as the boys in her school and soon, it’s all she’s drinking.

The comic does a good job at oscillating between the panther hunt with Maude’s parents, the dire circumstances that the town is facing, and Maude’s life that is filled with boring sex-ed that’s telling her that she’s a monster while she plays superheroes with tampons. There isn’t a single panel that feels derivative and the relationship between Maude and her father is adorable in the best of ways.

The volume also has additional interior art from Lia Miternique, Stella Greenvoss, and Kyle Scanlon, with additional writing in issues three and four from Eliza Fantastic Mohan, and haikus from Emily Powell. The interesting thing about this volume is that Greenvoss, Mohan, and Powell are still in middle school, which helps lend to the authenticity in the additional material to the story.

The art is amazing. I haven’t read a comic that so beautifully switches from preteen imaginations to a horrific crime scene before. The colors shift from bright and vibrant to murky and blood splattered. It’s perfect. Not to mention the treasure trove of geeky easter eggs hiding throughout the panels. From a Tardis, geeky corgi names, and references in the text, this comic has it all.

And let’s be honest, in a world that sees women growing up as a threat, whether it’s because of our sexualities or resistance to the status quo, Man-Eaters is a story that tells that reality. The scariest thing in this society are girls becoming women. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a quick read, great to look at, and a great way to revisit the horror of puberty all over again.

Man-Eaters Vol. 1 is available everywhere on February 27, 2019. While you’re at it, pick up Maneaters #5 now and be on the lookout for Maneaters #6 on February 27th as well.

Man-Eaters Vol. 1
5

TL;DR

And let’s be honest, in a world that sees women growing up as a threat, whether it’s because of our sexualities or resistance to the status quo, Man-Eaters is a story that tells that reality. The scariest thing in this society are girls becoming women. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a quick read, great to look at, and a great way to revisit the horror of puberty all over again.