Jade Street Protection Services #1
Writer: Katy Rex
Artist: Fabian Lelay
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Colourist: Mara Jayne Carpenter
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch with Magdalene Visaggio
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
A review by Amelia Wellman
Magical girl comics have been a mainstay of the industry for years now. There’s Agents of the Realm (side note, check out Mildred Louis, she’s awesome), Sailor Moon, Zodiac Starforce, Magick Chicks, and I’m sure there’s more that I’m just forgetting. Jade Street Protection Services joins the ranks of magic girl squad comics with its stunning debut coming this Wednesday (June 29th)!
Divya, Saba, Noemi, Kai, and Emma are students at Matsdotter Academy, an elite private school for magical girls. When they’re given detention and then skip said detention for kebabs and froyo, they end up in embroiled in a plot that’s stripping other witches of their powers for a shadowy black market operation.
Issue one of Jade Street Protection Services takes us on a Breakfast Club inspired arc. The girls goof off in one of their classes (Saba accidentally summons giant toilets because she has to pee really badly) and they get sent to after school detention. They skip it on the whims of the very John-Bender-esque character Kai and magic themselves downtown for some food related delinquency. We’re only one issue in, but it’s already reminding me of Lumberjanes in the way it approaches characters and stories. Incredible news for me because Lumberjanes is in my top five comics.
This story is filled with a wide spectrum of ethnicities and personalities, and it’s so, so, so amazing to see! Saba is a Muslim and wears a hijab, Noemi is Filipino (and I’m guessing maybe a lesbian given how she blushes when Kai is around her), Divya is Indian (that’s another speculative guess, apologizes if I’m wrong about any of these), and Emma is high-functioning autistic and doesn’t verbally speak. An interesting twist considering she narrates the story. Another interesting twist? Saba speaks her mind, is into Lolita fashion, and pulling pranks. Muslim women are so often misrepresented as subservient, quiet, and serious. Even though I’m not Muslim myself, it’s refreshing to see the usual Muslim girl archetype get thrown out the window. Religion and skin colour should not determine personality and that is something that Jade Street Protection Services gets 100% correct right out of the starting gate!
This first issue is all about introducing the world they inhabit, and, while Jade Street Protection Services draws from an already large and established catalogue of magic girl media, the world they occupy is vastly different and original. The girls have to be bound to the magic through some object (guns, hammers, flutes, etc) and once bound, it’s an unbreakable bond, short of the girl dying. There’s also strange rules that go along with being bound to the magic. They’re not spoken of much (yet) but we learn that the witches are forbidden from creating things by hand. An example brought up is knitting. It’s a peculiar rule to instate but one that’s sure to be repeated throughout the series. I can’t wait to see what else this magical world contains!
The art of Jade Street Protection Services is bright, colourful, and expressive. You’ll never feel like you don’t know what’s going through all the girls’ heads. The scene where Saba really has to pee? You’re going to get sympathy pains for the girl based on her facial expressions alone! The transformation scenes have a strong Sailor Moon quality and there are so many sparkles throughout! Lelay’s style might not be the cleanest or most detailed you’ll see in the comic book world but it’s charming and whimsical in its sketch-like quality. Lelay achieves a feeling of life and movement and fun in his work and I’ll take that over a highly detailed but soulless piece of art any day! And Annie Wu’s first issue cover is beautiful. But you can’t expect anything less from the amazing Annie Wu.
Buy it! Smaller publishing companies are putting out some of the best comics you’re likely to get your hands on, and Jade Street Protection Services more or less proves it! There’s real heart being put into this story. The female characters have depth and range and are absolutely their own characters, not just a cookie-cutter, standard model of a female in a comic book that does one thing, and one thing alone. Combine that with their varying ethnicities and that they’re badass babes with magic at their fingertips, and you’ve got yourself a new series that’s completely worth your time!