Mae#1 Writer: Gene Ha Pencils: Gene Ha Colors: Gene Ha and Rose McClain Letters: Zandre Cannon Publisher Dark Horse Comics
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Gene Ha got the funds and backing he needed to bring his original creation to Dark Horse Comics, Mae.
As just a youth, Abbie discovered a portal to another dimension. A fantastical world she equates to the land of Oz and Neverland. After numerous times of sneaking out at night to visit her new found playground, she decides to run away and has not been seen in years. However, she decides one day to return home and her younger sister, Mae, picks her up and the two attempt to reconcile. Abbie tries to explain to her what she’s been up to, becoming an action hero by vanquishing evil nobles, terrifying demons, and power-mad scientists. All which led her to becoming a queen. No surprise, Mae doesn’t believe her but when one of the dangerous creatures follows Abbie into the real world, maybe Mae will start to open her eyes.
This comic has a lot of elements working in its favor. Sure, it takes a premise and characters that we’ve seen time and time again but what makes this take stand out is the attractive and memorable passion, Gene Ha obviously has for this project.
Ha has created a family dynamic that is unfortunately not that uncommon nowadays. Theres a family run business and the non missing daughter, Mae, has to take over when the father becomes ill with type 2 diabetes. The whereabouts of the mother is unknown at this time. Mae expresses her desire to escape her dead end life and go to college when having dinner with her friend Dahlia but unfortunately can’t due to her commitments at home. Right away Gene Ha introduces us to a character that many can relate to but those that can’t, can easily become invested in given her ripping situation.
Annie is a character that unfortunately only some can relate to but many will envy. She’s a girl who unmistakably wasn’t happy with her life and instead of bowing her head to the norms of mundane suburbia, decided to manifest her own destiny. Going against the grain and discovering her independence. These two characters have taken polarizing avenues in their approach to life and they’ll surly clash. It’ll be interesting whether one can swing the other towards the other side or if they can compromise on a balance.
So far, this new indie series hasn’t delved too far into the realms of the fantastical but has undoubtedly laid the groundwork for something special. The job of a debut issue is to present the premise, characters, and themes with a engaging tease and this comic succeeds in executing that.
Along with the strong writing, another standout in this comic is the artwork. Hope you like purple, this issue is filled with it. Gene Ha has done his own artwork in this passion project, along with color assists from Rose McClain. The characters have this great claymation look to them which makes a film adaptation of this series call for stop-motion animation. What’s surprising with this style though is that there are some dauntingly realistic features in this book. The use of light and shadow is brilliant in this comic and the vivid use of color, primarily purple, is enthralling.
Enjoy fantasy and portal fiction stories like the Chronicles of Narnia and Wonderland as well as Doctor Who references? Then Mae is a comic for you. Gene Ha has given us indie comic book fans a series that doesn’t shy away from stereotypical tropes and draws us in with its compelling characters. The artwork is fantastic and mesmerizes your attention with its style, use of shadows, and purple palette. There are some comic books that you can tell from the first issue are going somewhere and Mae is one of them. It’s debut issue accomplishes in grabbing readers intrigue to return for the next issue.
Score: 4.5 out of 5
Review by Eric Bradach