Adolescent girls can be real monsters. Maude is twelve, about the age some girls turn into flesh-eating wild cats. As her detective dad investigates a series of strange mauling attacks, Maude worries she may be the killer.
Since I myself was once a 12-year-old girl, I feel uniquely qualified to confirm that it can be a horrifying experience. In Man-Eaters that horror extends to everyone in the vicinity of all women. This book attacks relevant issues like gender norms (for men & women), bodily autonomy, and of course the terrors of menstruation. Some of you may be thinking of clicking off this review just for reading the word menstruation, and that’s the whole point of Man-Eaters.
This graphic novel takes place in a world where puberty can turn you into a literal monster. The Toxoplasmosis parasite has evolved to turn girls into were-cats for 3-4 days a month. In order to combat this, birth control hormones are pumped into the water supply to suppress this mutation. In addition, young boys are encouraged to drink water laced with testosterone to “Increase performance on the court and in the classroom”. No young person is safe from biological manipulation.
As a frequent reader of Young Adult literature, I felt the kids in Man-Eaters just screaming for help through the page. There are constant debates among adult readers of YA about what is acceptable for children to read. What I think this book does well is illustrate that no one should have the power to manipulate the minds and bodies of kids wholesale.
The artwork in Man-Eaters is a lot of fun. There are some mixed mediums that appear throughout the book. There are ads for products that would exist in this world, primarily targeted at young boys to boost their testosterone and protect them against evil menstruating girls. The characters were very expressive, the cats are cute, and the gore is king of awesome.
If you enjoy body horror stories, this is a great graphic novel for you. I loved this tale on how girls are villainized for things they can’t control. Recommend it to all women, or anyone else who wants to take a swipe at the patriarchy.
Man-Eaters Volume 1 is now available at comic book shops, and will be available at bookstores on March 5th.