This arc continues to surprise and impress me. Not only is the writing and artwork excellent, but the creative team is bold enough to incorporate thought-provoking ideas. And they do so in a way that challenges to reader to look below the surface at to what is implied instead of what is overtly stated.
In this issue, Wanda collaborates with a Hong Kong detective named Alice Gulliver, also known as the Wu, who possesses mystical power. Alice is an intriguing character, specifically because of her balance of male and female energy. She has managed to incorporate aspects of her father and her mother into her being, becoming a balanced individual that transcends gender roles and bias.
Alice: My father was a Hong Kong detective, killed by one of the triads. My mother was the city’s magical heroine, the August Wu of the Coral Shore… murdered by a demonic entity.
Wanda: So you chose your father’s life and keep your inherited powers a secret?
Alice: On the down-low, that’s right.
A sign of great art, in my opinion, is to express something subtly, through what is consciously left out of dialog and what is conveyed through images. In this tale, there is a sexual attraction between Wanda and Alice that is only hinted at through the dialog and the images, particularly the eyes. I’ve always felt that eyes are the most expressive feature of a person’s face, and the artists captured an attraction through the way the eyes are rendered. It’s subtle, but clearly there.
At the end of the issue, Alice hesitates for a frame, eyes are averted, building tension. Then in the following frame, her eyes turn back to Wanda as she springs a question.
Alice: Hey… err … do you want to grab a drink? We can discuss how I do things differently.
Wanda: I don’t drink, Alice. I’m sorry.
Alice: How about tea? I know an amazing tea house.
Wanda: Oh. Now tea, I do.
And in the final frame, the two women walk off together.
I’m really impressed that a main-stream comic has taken on sexuality and gender issues. It takes courage, especially in an environment that appears to be more and more hostile to the LGBT community (looking at the states that have recently enacted legislation restricting rights of LGBT citizens).
I recently listened to a TED podcast that talked about moving beyond tolerance, and I have been thinking about that a lot since listening. Tolerating people who are different is not enough. We need to embrace diversity and not merely tolerate those who are different. I think this comic is a step toward embracing differences, and for that, I applaud the writers and artists who collaborated on this.
Cheers, and thanks for stopping by.