This has been the year of the Tamakis for me.

I was first introduced to Mariko and Jillian Tamaki last fall during my young adult materials class, which had both Skim (written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki) and Saving Montgomery Sole (written by Mariko Tamaki) on the reading list. I have since read more of the cousins’ collaborative and solo works and also had the opportunity to see each of them in-person.

Basically, I am obsessed.

So obviously I was thrilled when I found out that Mariko Tamaki was a writer on two comic book projects with female leads and am excited to gab about them now.

Hulk: Deconstructed (#1)

Marvel – Released December 28, 2016

Tone: dark

Recommended for: older teens, adults

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My first impressions of Marvel’s Hulk:

  1. I love that it is just being called Hulk, rather than She-Hulk.
  2. The cover art is totally kick-ass.

The issue itself is pretty slow though, as it is mostly working to set up Jennifer Walter’s new ‘normal’ life as a non-green, human-looking lawyer in New York City and introduce her first legal case.

I didn’t get a sense for Tamaki’s voice in this issue and imagine lots of her characteristic spunk and humour is being held on reserve for later issues once the story and characters have been better established. Hulk also feels a lot more dark and ‘adult’ than Tamaki’s other works, which typically focus on the lives of teenage girls rather than on adult superheroes like Hulk who have seen some shit.

I think there is a lot to be interested in with this story though and  am especially looking forward to seeing the writers delve deeper into Jennifer Walters’ change in perceptions about her transformation:

“This is what happens now when I think about what happened to me.

It used to feel strong. Changing. Becoming something powerful. Now it feels like dying…

…Like a truck driving through my heart…

…Like every hurt is right there, pouring through me.”

Supergirl: Being Super (Book One)

DC – Released December 28, 2016

Tone: playful and comedic, with appropriate levels of teenage angst

Recommended for: teenagers, novice comic book readers, female readers

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The first of four books of DC’s Supergirl: Being Super miniseries is double the size of the first issue of Hulk, and so there is a lot more room for stories and characters to develop. Its length is just one place where you can tell DC has thrown some cash at Supergirl, since it also boasts a thick cover (like you would normally see in a comic book volume) and some absolutely gorgeous inking (by Sandu Florea) and colouring (by Kelly Fitzpatrick).

Seriously, guys, I can’t get over how beautiful the illustrations are.

As an origin story project, Supergirl is really friendly for readers who are not already deep into the comic book world (like me!). It is also laugh-out-loud funny at some moments (there is a particularly memorable zit popping scene which I will continue to fixate on for days), and the writing feels a lot more like the playful style I am used to from Mariko Tamaki. This could have something to do with her being the sole writer on the project, but it might also be because she is playing into her strength of writing teenage girls.

It also wouldn’t be Mariko Tamaki if there wasn’t some queer representation. I love the inclusion of the lesbian POC character of Dolly, and her introduction is one of my favourite parts of the book:

“Her parents are country music freaks. They named her Dolly because that’s what they wanted her to be. 

Dolly told me her life started when she realized she was a badass dyke and not a country music legend. Although you can probably be both.”

I can’t wait for more Supergirl and more girl power illustrations like this one:

 

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