MIRENDA VOL. 1 TP BY GRIM WILKINS
Plot
Art
Characterization
Summary
MIRENDA VOL. 1's surprisingly epic story about a Woman's quest to exorcize a demon is really well written and illustrated. Grim Wilkins draws big, imaginative panels and balloons that feed into each other moment to moment. Not too many comics this year are completely silent, so this series feels incredibly refreshing.
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AN EXPERTLY CRAFTED STORY
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Once in a while, a comic book series comes along that dares to push the limits of narrative and sequential art storytelling. With MIRENDA vol. 1, artist/writer Grim Wilkins goes all-in and tells a mostly silent epic. Originally appearing as separate issues in ISLAND magazine, all five issues of MIRENDA are included in this trade paperback collection.

MIRENDA vol. 1 is the story of a Woman who goes on a journey to remove a demon that inhabits her leg. Along the way, she makes friends, gets into dangerous situations, and learns about the demon. Notably, the style is similar to the works of the French comic book artist Moebius as well Frank Frazetta‘s musclebound figures. Suffice to say, MIRENDA vol.1 is a surprisingly excellent-paced story from beginning to end.

Women Drive the Story Forward

From the outset, MIRENDA vol.1 immediately establishes its Tarzan-like protagonist. We meet the Woman as she leaps around with a loin cloth to retrieve a mysterious blue flower. Then she takes the flower to a medicine man who grinds it up to reveal its contents. However, unbeknownst to the Woman, the flower unleashes a demon that possesses her leg. This triggers her journey to remove it. The action ebbs and flows but it’s well paced. Wilkins takes great care not to overwhelm readers and allows the story to breathe between epic moments.

MIRENDA Vol. 1 by Grim Wilkins
MIRENDA vol. 1, page 4. Courtesy of Image Comics

Across five chapters, the story introduces multiple characters in addition to our heroine. First, there’s a man in black who serves as the antagonist and is in pursuit of the Woman. Next, there’s a clothed woman with a rhino tattoo who saves the Woman’s life from bandits. Lastly, there’s a band of travelers who are also looking for the Woman. The travelers are a man with a bandanna and a hawk, a bald man of color, and their leader, a woman with a prosthetic leg.

One of the questions that Wilkins plays with is the notion of identity. None of the characters in the story have names. The only name mentioned is Mirenda, which is used sparingly. No one knows who or what Mirenda is, and Wilkins leaves it open to interpretation for readers to figure out. The Woman is perceived differently by various characters. Is she a demon-Woman out to destroy the world, a criminal, or neither? You’ll have to read the story and decide for yourself!

Silently Balanced Cast of Characters

MIRENDA VOL. 1 TP
MIRENDA vol. 1, page 10. Courtesy of Image Comics

Because the art in MIRENDA vol. 1 is central to characterization, readers need to read slowly and between the lines. In other words, the gestures, facial expressions, and clothes are instrumental to their unique characteristics. For instance, the Woman is portrayed as primitive, as seen in one moment where she captures a fish with her teeth. The Woman’s mannerisms, such leaping between trees and her hunting skills, reinforces her primitiveness. She’s also capable of defending herself. Particularly, the Woman runs into some vagrants in chapter two and easily defeats most of them alone.

Women in this comic drive the plot. Within every group, a woman seems to be the leader or brute force of the pack. And they’re constantly depicted defending themselves. The woman with the rhino tattoo saves our main character from bandits. The woman with a prosthetic leg protects her group from evil sea creatures. Overall, Wilkins does a good job of characterizing the women through the art and making her believable.

Diverse and Epic Artwork

MIRENDA VOL. 1
MIRENDA vol. 1, page 11. Courtesy of Image Comics

Given his influences including Frazetta and Moebius, Grim Wilkins celebrates women of diverse body types and abilities. Namely, the main character is chubby yet surprisingly strong and nimble. Later, the aforementioned woman with the prosthetic leg proves that her disability isn’t a burden. In fact, one of the best panels in the story comes when the woman in the prosthetic leg takes on a sea monster single-handedly. In spectacular fashion, she triumphantly emerges with the monster’s eye. As a result, the scene is an intentional homage to the Great Wave off Kanagawa print by Hokusai.

It also needs to be noted that Wilkins never once leaves a panel lingering on a women’s body parts. For instance, the jungle Woman’s breasts are always covered by hair, leaves, or a shawl. In that way, MIRENDA vol. 1 is similar to SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #9, another issue that handles female nudity in a respectful manner. In doing so, we see the characters as heroic, nearly statuesque figures rather than sexualized objects.

One of the most delightful parts of the comic are the colors. The colors are absolutely gorgeous. Wilkins loves to gradually add color to pages that are devoid of them for dramatic effect. Throughout the various chapters, Wilkins employs this technique before introducing a character, such as the aforementioned hawk. Later the colors take on a surreal element in a cave to tell the origin story of the demon that inhabits the Woman’s leg. In short, it’s quite a visual treat to behold.

Closing Thoughts on MIRENDA VOL. 1

Overall, MIRENDA vol. 1  is a gripping story from the outset and doesn’t let go. Thanks to a cast of strong, compelling characters and gorgeous, colorful art, this story is a must-read. There’s something quite refreshing about reading a comic where the art speaks for itself. Evidently, Wilkins not only celebrates the comics medium but creates a new language through iconic imagery. Simply put, this is masterful storytelling at its finest.

MIRENDA vol. 1  releases on November 7th. You can check out where to get it here. You can also purchase MIRENDA original pages from Wilkins’ website here.

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