Jook Joint #2 Review
• Alitha E. Martinez w/ Nelson & Shari Chankhamma (Cover Artists)
• Shari Chankhamma (Colorist) • Image Comics (Publisher)
• Get it now: Amazon
I enjoyed Jook Joint #1 and was pretty eager to jump back in to see where the story was going despite some reservations. We get some revelations regarding the women of the night spot. They are undead sirens brought back to life by Mahalia after being murdered by men who had wronged them in life.
The last issue ended on a cliffhanger as Heloise contemplated having her husband murdered. Instead of being killed, he is captured by Mahalia, The madame of the Jook Joint. Her goal is to empower Heloise with the strength to kill him herself.
Heloise offers to make other men suffer but doesn't have the resolve to kill kill her husband. After her daughter questions her about her father's disappearance Heloise begs Mahalia to set him free. She doesn't want to lie to her daughter anymore.
Mahalia responds to her pleas by showing her a vision of the future in which she is dead at the feet of the man that is abusing her.
I had a really hard time writing this review. I want to love the story and in a sense I do. It's really different and brave. I do have some reservations despite the high praise I'm about to give.
It would be really easy for Mahalia to ride in and solve all of Heloise's immediate problems by getting rid of her husband but it wouldn't really empower her or solve the underlying problem. More than likely the next guy would do the same thing or worse. Heloise is weak plain and simple.
Its very easy to be the hero passing judgement on others but it's another thing in having the strength of your convictions. There is a scene in this issue where men are being brutalized but Mahalia won't allow Heloise to participate saying she's not ready.
Heloise is clearly angry but she's selfish in that she isn't ready to take on the same loss that she's willing to inflict upon others. For that thematic distinction, I can't praise this issue enough.
My gripes are aren't really technical in nature this time around. The premise is excellent but some of the writing for this issue is choppy especially for the men that fall victim in this issue. I'm not expecting much from these guys, they are clearly assholes and don't deserve sympathy.
My concern is that when every man outside of the establishment is portrayed as a one-dimensional asshole it almost becomes a parody and takes away from the overarching message of the narrative. This is also an issue I took with Bordertown, another series with a heavy underlying message. It's not as bad as that series but it's in there.
I also didn't quite understand the point of the sex and nudity. It really jumps this time around. Maybe not pointless but totally unnecessary to the progression of the story.
The art direction seems to be more consistent this time around. The gripes I had about details and not being able to make out certain scenes are all but gone. Despite the hiccups, the overall plot is fine and if tightened up slightly could make for an amazing overall series. I have faith we'll get there.