Rating: 4.5/5 – Gene Ha’s Portal Fantasy is a Rollicking Good Time!
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.
I read a lot of comics. A LOT. 120 or more different comics every month. How do I keep them all straight in my head? Well, I look for comics that have a unique ‘voice’ to them and don’t blend in with all the others. That unique quality to each helps my brain compartmentalize the stories so I can follow all the different threads every month. Mae definitely has that unique spark. I also notice that I tend to give high ratings on many of my reviews. I try lots of comics that I don’t stick with. Unless it had some glaring issues that I feel compelled to write about, I may just dash off a quick post about ones that don’t make the cut on the ComicSpectrum Facebook page in lieu of writing a full review. Or I just silently make a note to myself to cut them from my pull list.
On the other hand, I will often finish a comic and feel the need to walk over to the computer and tell people about it right now. I just finished reading Mae #3 a couple of minutes ago and had that feeling. Mae is Gene Ha’s new creator-owned portal fantasy that he is both writing and drawing. I have been enjoying this series more with each issue, I just finished #3 and it was fantastic, firing on all cylinders.
A quick aside for those who are unfamiliar with the term “portal fantasy”. It’s that sub-genre of fantasy (or sci-fi) where the protagonists are delivered into a fantastical world via some form of extra-normal portal. Think of the wardrobe in the Narnia books, the tornado that brings Dorothy to Oz, the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, the tollbooth in the fantastic kids book The Phantom Tollbooth. Hopefully you’re familiar with at least one of the examples above. Any that you’re not, you’ve got some reading to catch up on! But I digress…
Mae is the story of two sisters, Maye and Abbie. Abbie vanished into a portal (or gate, as it’s called in this story) years ago and had many fabulous adventures, ultimately becoming a renowned heroine, in a far away realm. She returns and (without spoiling things) ends up back in that realm with her sister in issue #3. Getting the introduction to the new realm and its interpretation of various common fantasy tropes is great fun, especially through the lens of “normal” Mae. Some of those tropes are reinforced and some are stood upon their ear. I don’t want to ruin the discovery process by citing specific examples, but there are flying ships, thieves, battles, fantasy races, and talking animals to be had within these pages.
If you’re as much a fan of a good fantasy tale, expressive art, and extremely likeable heroes setting out on a quest to free a kidnapped family member as I am, then you should love Mae. Ask your shop for a copy, it’s only on issue #3 so you should be able to track down issues #1 and 2, or wait until the collection comes out, but I like to support these in single issues so that I can ensure the sales will warrant them continuing on past the 1st story arc. This has a slot on my pull list and is creeping up closer towards the top with each issue that come out.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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