Gene Ha’s upcoming graphic novel, Mae, Vol. 1, showcases Ha’s talent as both a writer and an illustrator. This story introduces Mae, who follows her long-lost sister, Abbie, into a fantasy realm full of monsters, talking animals, mad scientists, and warring factions of nobles. Despite running into mishaps and occassionally bickering like the siblings they are about where they’re going and how to get there, Abbie’s fighting skills and fearless heroics combined with Mae’s technical skills and brain power promise to make them an almost unbeatable team. Though I felt at times as if the story should be titled “Abbie” or even “Abbie & Mae” rather than just “Mae,” it was easy to root for these intrepid sisters as strong female character leads.
The story is woven together with a good dose of action and humor. Mae and Abbie’s adventures transport them to a realm where Abbie has spent the last several years during which time Mae was left to wonder what had happened to her sister while caring for their father and the family business. The world building was both creative and well crafted with a variety of interesting characters, from heroes to villains to comic relief side-kicks. The alternate land to which they travel evokes a feel reminiscent of steampunk and magic, but with a flavor all its own. Ha’s illustrations feature bold black outlines with shadowy dark tones offset by accents of bright reds and yellows.
Eisner award-winning Gene Ha has worked with comic legends such as Alan Moore and is known for his work with Marvel, DC, and other comic imprints. Originally started as a solo project with funds raised through the crowdfunding source Kickstarter, the first individual comic books in the Mae series were published by Dark Horse. This first complete volume graphic novel is published by Lion Forge, with sequels expected under the Lion Forge label. I, for one, will look forward to reading about Mae’s future adventures.
I was provided an advance review copy compliments of Lion Forge through NetGalley for the purpose of this impartial review.