Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Review: Jade Street Protection Services #2

By Reboot

After a hiatus, Black Mask Studios' Jade Street Protection Services is back with issue #2! This comic was created by Katy Rex and Fabian Lelay with Katy on writing duty and Fabian on the art. Rounding out the team are Mara Jayne Carpenter coloring, Taylor Esposito lettering, and rising star Mags Visaggio editing. I got a chance to read it for this review, and now you get a chance to read this review.

For those of you who haven't read issue #1 yet, this is the story of five diverse teenage girls, Divya, Saba, Noemi, Kai, and Emma with magical abilities that are going to school to get better at being magical. The first issue gives a taste of all these characters and how they interact with each other and wraps up with them working together to get through a dangerous magical conflict.

Issue #2 starts off with the continuation of said magical conflict, introduces a new character named Wing, and begins to reveal a magical conspiracy where even cockroaches can't be trusted. Does this comic work though?

Let's start with Katy Rex on writing. This issue starts with a bang, lulls for exposition, goes back to action, slows down for more exposition, then ends by picking up a bit again with a reveal that will likely be dealt with in issue #3. Structurally this works well. The dialogue is mostly quick with only a few moments in the issue that feel a little clunky because of the amount of exposition that's needed. I do feel that this series does try to deal with too many characters. While many other magical girl properties tend to have five women, manga like Sailor Moon slowly introduce the characters over many issues to spotlight the different characters. While Jade Street Protection Services is intended to be a mini-series with little room to tell it's story in the same way as Sailor Moon, I do feel that they could have trimmed down the cast by one or even two characters to help streamline the story and give it greater focus as at least a couple of the main characters have very little to do this issue.

Fabian Lelay's art is a step up from the first issue. Not only is his work noticeably tighter, but Fabian also gets more daring with his layouts. Some of the pages really pop and show a higher level of mastery over the medium than the previous outing. A keen eye will also pick up on the backgrounds in the panels of this issue being more detailed. 

Mara Jayne Carpenter's colors elevate Fabian's illustrations. The strategic usage of purples, pinks, blues, reds, and oranges in the backgrounds perfectly emphasize the tone. It continues with eds and oranges during conflict, pinks during a warm scene where the girls regroup, and so forth.

It's likely due to Mags Visaggio's influence as editor that some of the charm and wit we see in her Black Mask series Kim & Kim shine through. The kind of silly arguments the characters can get into and their reactions to something as fantastical as magic is similar to what you might expect in Kim & Kim and that's a good thing.

While not flawless, Jade Street Protection Services #2 brings us the kind of witty banter, social commentary and diversity both in the comic and in creating the comic that we have come to expect from Black Mask Studios. If you care about diversity in comics, supporting women and minority creators, and women kicking ass in comics, pick up this comic.

Jade Street Protection Services issue 2 is available today, November 2nd.

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