Female Furies #1
Written by Cecil Castellucci
Art by Adriana Melo and Hi-Fi
Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10
Spinning off the wild success of Mister Miracle comes Female Furies - but while the adventures of Scott Free proved to be a haunting look at the costs of war, family, and celebrity, it feels like Granny Goodness’ elite squad of women warriors are finding themselves on the wrong side of the Anti-Fun Equation. Writer Cecil Castellucci, known for her young adult novels and excellent Shade, The Changing Girl for DC’s Young Animal imprint, uses the familiar characters to tackle Jack Kirby’s creations from a sharply topical perspective. While the New Gods get woke, readers may be left scratching our heads and wondering what in the name of Apokolips that we’ve just read.
At its core, Female Furies is about Granny Goodness and her fanatically loyal group of furies - namely Big Barda, Aurelie, Mad Harriet, Lashina, Bernadeth, and Stompa - setting out to prove that they have what it takes to prove their own against the male members of Darkseid’s inner circle. It just so happens that those feats of strength have been undercut to rig the competition against Goodness’ highly-trained fighting force.
Casting Darkseid as a sexual predator as well as an archvillain, he coerces a younger Goodness with promises of power and betrays her by putting her in charge of the “orphanage.” The heavy-handed analogy could be read as being about any number of Hollywood or political figures who have recently been called out for their behavior. It’s a clumsily-made argument, but in isolation it would have made for some interesting texture to this sci-fi parable. Yet as the pages of fight montages are suddenly interrupted by the Furies engaging in a bake-off, an evening gown portion, and a smile/swimsuit contest. Castellucci’s point about double standards and institutional misogyny is crystal-clear, but it comes awfully close to mocking its own thesis.
Where the book really works is in some of the inspired art choices from Adriana Melo and Hi-Fi. The Kirby-inspired art of the first few pages, and subsequent flashback sequences, uses the heightened facial expressions, layouts, and even ‘restored’ color choices of a reprint of a comic from the 1970s. In this context, Castellucci’s overwrought dialogue and melodramatic moments work as a pitch-perfect recreation of a less progressive time for comics.
Yet the rest of the issue doesn’t gel with anything we see here. There’s tightly-panelled training sequences in which Protector Willik takes physical liberties with Aurelie, more two-page spreads displaying feats of strength, and the truly strange spectacle of the Furies lined up across five horizontal panels as police line-up meet the ball scene. The category is: Apokolipsian Eleganza Extravaganza.
Contemporary conversations around abuse of power and privilege are far too important to be diminished by throwaway stories, and Female Furies' bewildering execution can't help but undermine the progressive allegory it attempts to make. Falling far short of satire and just too plain weird to be take seriously as retro-flavored drama, if there is an intended audience here, it probably got lost in a Boom Tube along the way.