Review: Yasmeen #1
To be very honest, I generally don't pay too much attention to Scout Comics as a publisher as I should. While I have read a few projects from them that I have enjoyed, they as of yet haven't hit a consistent ratio of positive hits for me. The range of styles and genres they publish is all over the place, and while diversity of content is certainly a great thing to strive for, it's difficult to focus and find what will resonate.
Still, it's well worth your time to keep an eye on them because when they do hit that special something, they really hit gold. Fabiana Mascolo's cover popped in the order catalogs and the series description offered something that I was just honestly not expecting from Scout.
The story follows 16 year-old Yasmeen, whose Shia family barely escaped Mosul in 2014 when ISIS invaded. Yasmeen herself wasn't as lucky as she is captured by terrorists and must follow her own path for survival. The story bounces between 2014 Iraq and 2016 USA as you are slowly shown Yasmeen experiences in the past as they reflect into her future.
As Yasmeen works through her own trauma, the 2016 storyline subtly lets you know that her family has many more hardships to deal with, financial and social. All the while you are continually given flashbacks to better understand Yasmeen's past, as well as the social, cultural, and political chaos that Iraq suffered through. For a first issue it's a finely tuned piece of work that expertly sets up it's characters and plots while engaging you to learn more.
Saif A. Ahmed's script is tight, well paced, and really brings the characters to life. It feels like a passion project that he took the utmost care in crafting, and in an interview he explains, "I am also very excited to tell a story that gives a real depiction of refugees where I based a lot of the main characters’ dynamics, clothes and look off my own family and families I know. This story of a modern tragedy, where a pure force of evil subjected tens of thousands of young women to slavery, is told from the personal point of view of the protagonist, Yasmeen, who represents thousands of real-life brave women who didn’t need superpowers to be called heroes. Despite the harsh subject, the focus will not be on the actual violence and sexual assault, but rather on the aftermath and its influence on the victims.”
Mascolo's artwork has a fluid and clean quality to it that aids in the flow of the story, at times reminding me of Fiona Staples' work. Her layouts really ground the book without anything looking tedious or boring, finding that priceless middle ground that's both compositionally solid and stylistically engaging.
If you want to support new and fresh projects, I highly recommend taking the time to track this down. Issue #2 is due out on Aug 19th.