Wednesday , April 24 2024
The second in Minx's new line of girls' graphic novels is slick 'n' snappy entertainment.

Graphic Novel Review: The Re-Gifters by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew & Marc Hempel

The second in DC's Minx line of 'tween-aged graphic novels (first being The Plain Janes), The Re-Gifters is about Jen Dik Seong, a.k.a. Dixie, a resident of L.A.'s Koreatown and would-be neighborhood hapkido champion. A spiky (to use the adjective offered by her best friend Avril) adolescent girl, Dixie's shot at the championship is impeded by a major crush she has on a hapkido student named Adam. Her obsession with the blond dream boy is so strong that it interferes with both her schoolwork and martial arts training. It has, her instructor Master Choi observes, made her lose her ki, her "harmonious essence."

In an attempt to get Adam to really take notice, Dixie blows the entry fee for an area hapkido tournament to buy Adam a pricey Korean statue. Adam – being the kinda dorkishly self-absorbed guy we quickly recognize is unworthy of our love-struck heroine – doesn't know what to make of the gift and further displays his denseness by asking Dixie's advice on getting one of her classmates' attention. Though our heroine rightfully explodes on the fool, it doesn't stop her from hopelessly obsessing about him. Per the book's title, that statue will pass through a variety of hands before the story concludes.

As scripted by Mike Carey and illustrated by Sonny Liew & Marc Hempel, Re-Gifters charts a fairly predictable storyline about being true to yourself in both love and hapkido championship contests. If most adults (and more than a few sharp kids) coming across this book'll likely anticipate each plot shift several pages before our heroine does, Carey's characterization keeps things lively. Unlike his recent dour Vertigo GN, God Save the Queen, here the writer keeps both his primary and secondary characters believably distinct enough to hold our attention. A few of his storytelling conceits – like a chapter where our heroine and Avril bicker in the middle of Dixie's attempts at getting the "David Copperfield stuff" out of the way ("Hey! This is my story, Avril! Is that your voice in the caption box? Doesn't look like it to me!") – are especially entertaining. Liew and Hempel's art (abetted by Jesse Hamm's smartly placed grayscales) pops off the page with plenty of bustling energy. Their manga-esque full-page panel (complete with Korean characters floating in the background) where our Hapkido Kid finally reconnects with her ki in the tournament's final contest is a particular crowd-pleaser.

In sum, Re-Gifters is a step forward for DC's fledgling Minx Line: a snappier entertainment than the company's debut GN, Plain Janes, to be sure. The line definitely bears watching, though I personally suspect DC won't really start grabbing serious 'tween-girl money until they come up with a series to fit under the Minx imprint. A comic book Gossip Girl for a readership reared on shojo manga, perhaps?

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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