-This article was possible due to the gift of a review copy, QWERTY, and rolling natural 20s.
Guest Writer: Stonie Williams
Family is never easy. The Family Trade is no exception.
The Family Trade Issue #2
Writers – Justin Jordan & Nikki Ryan
Art – Morgan Beem
Letters – Rachel Deering
I quote the writer when I say “Ultimately, I think The Family is a family in all the ways that matter. They love each other and care about each other even while they might sometimes hate each other. It’s big and messy and complex…”
That sums up family quite well. After this Thanksgiving Day, this comic felt appropriate to review. So let’s dive in.
The Family Trade is about ‘The Family’, a network of relatives all more or less related in some way. The Family works as spies, assassins, and thieves. Their job is to keep the balance of power. The island they live on, called The Float, functions as kind of neutral territory to negotiate between countries. It’s run by groups called The Clans and The Family makes sure no one Clan has too much power. The story follows a young girl named Jessa. Jessa is trying to follow in her deceased parent’s footsteps. She’s desperate to get her foot in the door as a field agent for The Family.
Jessa’s attire when not in the field screams 70s street kid to me. Jessa has stumbled onto the fact that one of the Clans might know about the super-secret Family. She needs proof before any of her superiors will believe her, so she goes looking for it herself.
The main villain of this issue, Mikkaelsen, is the kind of villain to love to hate. Sour-faced and domineering. You almost can’t wait for Jessa to spoil his plans.
An interesting addition to the story is the role of The Toms, the cats that live on The Float. They seem to communicate with The Family and are more intelligent than your average cat. They act as look-outs, spies, and informants for The Family. I’d love to see an issue from their point of view.
The first thing that grabs you is the art. Morgan Beem’s watercolor style is playful and dramatic. The backgrounds have wonderful detail with muted colors. It leaves the foreground and characters bright and center of attention. Characters being “actors” is a big thing for me and Beem delivers. Her expressions are great and I found myself looking over the entire book for the art before I’d read a single word.
The style of art brings a certain feel to the comic, at least for me. It reminds of older cartoons from the 60s and 70s. Cartoons that, while they had a silliness to them, hide deeper meaning. They made you think and consider things that you don’t see in that medium as much today.
The late 60s early 70s feel I can’t shake mixes well with the Steampunk elements of the book. This is something you could definitely see as a TV show on the BBC. Jessa is a fantastic protagonist. You immediately care about her and her mission. A supporting character, Ri, who is presumably one of Jessa’s many cousins is a bright spot for Jessa. Ri is Jessa’s confidant and safe place for her to regroup. I look forward to seeing more of Ri in the future.
While only the second issue, I’d recommend this to everyone. No gratuitous violence or cursing. Nothing sexual, explicit or implied. Jessa is a strong and relatable female lead. The action is fun without having to be gory. It’s a wonderful twist on a spy story that I can’t wait to continue. Until next time, happy reading!