Reading Pile: The Scent of May Rain GN
This project caught my eye on Kickstarter for a few reasons, but what really drew me in is that while it's technically a superhero story it's more of a unique character exploration that touches on issues of gender and LGBTQ identity. It's superhero adjacent, which is something I would like to see more of in comic fiction.
The story follows Esther Abrams, a Jewish golem created to be a protector and a mother. As she's essentially a newborn, she has to slowly adapt to the world and the expectations of her creator.
The story bounces around a few different timelines, jumping from the 20's, the 40's, the 70's, the early aughts, and up to now. Early on we focus on Esther's time being a caretaker for her creator's daughter and her early struggles with her identity as she was limited by her creator's concepts of proper womanhood.
As we enter WWII Esther fights on the front lines and meets the heroine Pat Parker, War Nurse. The inclusion of this public domain hero was a very interesting choice, because in general I'm used to the Dynamite Comics method of overusing public domain heroes to tiresome and generic results. Here the utilization of War Nurse felt like the polar opposite, offering a sense of warmth and charm to help mold the experiences of Esther in the story as she explores her identity.
After the WWII sequences we then jump to Esther dealing with what her identity and purpose is after her daughter passes, what her role in society will be in the 2000's, and how she allowed other people to decide her purpose and identity regardless of how well meaning they were. As we jump from the 70's to the later decades this is where the story beats hit much faster and where I wish the book was just a bit longer.
On one hand I feel like the book is a little too short, but that just may be because I liked the concept and its handling so much and want more. The story is really clean and tight at the pacing they establish and hits the key elements of what they are trying to say exceptionally well. It's concise in its purpose, which is definitely something a lot of comics fail to hit. However, the innate charm and use of the golem concept are so strong that I feel they can explore a lot of these ideas to richer depths.
Also, I'm generally a big fan of the use of the golem in comics, and unfortunately that doesn't happen too often. So anything that can approach it from new and interesting perspectives (especially merging it with issues of queer identity) really gets me excited and I was exceptionally happy with this book. So yeah, I think my major issue is that there simply isn't more.
This is the first project I've ever read by Rae Epstein and Mark O. Stacks (stacks is credited for the script), but as I said it was quick and concise and I liked their style. The heart of the storytelling for me though came from Kaylee Rowena's artwork as it just infused so much character and charm into the project. I highly recommend following her work.
From what I can tell physical copies may no longer be available, but you can still pick up the digital version directly from Weekend Warrior Comics.