REVIEW: ‘Calamity Kate,’ Vol. #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Calamity Kate

Lock up your kids and break out the broadswords. It’s time to hunt monsters and repress your feelings! Calamity Kate Vol. #1 is published by Dark Horse Comics and written by Magdalene Visaggio, with art by Corin Howell, coloring by Valentina Pinto, and lettering by Zaak Saam.

You could say Kate Strand is between jobs these days. Ever since her divorce, she’s been crashing on her old college roommate Vira’s couch. She may be unemployed, but Kate has a higher calling. See, the streets are rough out there in Los Angeles, on account of the monster problem. Dragons, zombies and every creature you’ve ever seen in a nightmare are not only real but lurking in your alley right now! The only thing keeping those monsters from turning you into a human hot dog is folks like Kate. Better known as ‘Calamity’ Kate, she hunts monsters, and the monster business is booming. With her eyes set for the top, Calamity Kate wages a one-woman war on monster kind. 

Calamity Kate

At first glance, Calamity Kate Vol. #1 has all the markings of a run of the mill monster-hunting adventure. You know the type, the stories that read like they started as tabletop game campaigns. If you look closely though, you’ll find this hot rod has two engines roaring under the hood. The first is the story of Calamity Kate, monster-slaying bad-ass extraordinaire. Fully equipped with a slick ride, a sharp blade, and a spike-shouldered leather jacket, Kate practically oozes cool in every fight. She slices through monsters like butter, making Los Angeles headlines with every fresh kill. Calamity Kate seems unstoppable, constantly leaping back into the fray But she isn’t. If she was, Calamity Kate Vol. #1 would be a far less interesting comic. Instead, Magdalene Visaggio presents a stirring portrait of someone who’s lost their way.

Underneath the blood and the braggadocio beats Calamity Kate Vol. #1‘s lonely heart. Before she was the feared monster slayer Calamity, Kate was just Kate Strand, an underemployed married twenty-something trying to find her way in New York City. But, as so many other underemployed millennials have found out, a bitter breakup can implode a life. The married future she planned shatters and Kate tires to remake herself into something tougher, something meaner. If she can become the greatest monster hunter alive, Kate thinks, she might just be able to leave the pain and hurt behind.

Calamity Kate

If you’ve ever been through a particularly bitter breakup, you know how deeply a dying relationship can cut. Our inner demons grow in those cuts, burrowing under the skin where no one can reach them. With her divorce still fresh, Kate’s head is not in a good place. She presents herself as the fearless Calamity Kate. But on the inside, the dauntless monster hunter is barely holding it together. For Kate, it’s a hell of a lot easier to run headfirst into mortal danger than to reckon with her personal demons. 

The combination of internal struggle with bloody monster fights makes for some compelling reading. Calamity Kate Vol. #1 has plenty of humor with some ridiculously cool action scenes. Corin Howell’s art has attitude to spare, with equally striking character and monster designs. Yet, walking away from this book, all I could think about was Kate’s arduous journey of self-discovery. It definitely packs a wallop. Calamity Kate may be untouchable, but Kate Strand’s heart is all too human. As Kate says herself,  “For every monster out here in the real world, the real monsters are the ones you can’t see.”

Calamity Kate
5

TL;DR

The combination of internal struggle with bloody monster fights makes for some compelling reading. Calamity Kate Vol. #1 has plenty of humor with some ridiculously cool action scenes. Corin Howell’s art has attitude to spare, with equally striking character and monster designs