FEMALE FURIES #1 / Writer: Cecil Castellucci / Artist: Adriana Melo / Colorist: Hi-Fi / Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual / Publisher: DC Comics / Feb 6, 2019
Spoiler alert: significant plot details below!
Cecil Castellucci did not come to play. Fresh off her excellent run on Shade, The Changing Girl (followed by Shade, the Changing Woman) for DC’s now-ended Young Animal imprint, Castellucci presents one of the fiercest and most righteously angry superhero books I’ve read in Female Furies #1. “It Starts Here! The Fourth World Revolution!” the cover proclaims in truly grandiose Kirby-esque fashion, a fitting tribute to the King’s unique voice.
Mitch Gerads’s (Mister Miracle) cover has the Furies bursting out towards the reader, led by one of DC’s most beloved characters, Big Barda. However, perhaps surprisingly, Barda isn’t the star of this issue – that nebulous honour belongs to none other than sadistic mistress of the Apokolips orphanage, Granny Goodness.
As subtitles for a story arc go, “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Bleeding” is up there as an all-time great. From the very first page, it’s clear that Castellucci wants to address real-world issues through a superhero prism. Granny’s opening monologue, in which she declares to the assembled Furies that, “There are no warriors alive on this world or the next who are our equal. No matter what anyone ever tells you” reads as a mission statement and a thrown gauntlet. The issue spends some time trying to change your perception of an established DC character through flashback scenes of Granny in her youth. Prior to this, to my knowledge, Granny Goodness has been little more than a sadistic monster responsible for training Darkseid’s parademons.
In this issue, we see how she became that person; when younger, she was a fierce combatant, constantly belittled by her contemporaries and scorned for being a woman. In the first flashback sequence (which is illustrated in a style much more akin to Kirby’s work with flat colours and less shading, a great visual flourish by artist Adriana Melo and colourist Hi-Fi), DeSaad takes credit for the death of Heggra at Granny’s hands. Despite having fought a titanic battle against Heggra, Granny’s actions are erased and her contribution to Darkseid’s triumph is forgotten.
In the present, this treatment continues and worsens – Granny is mocked and sidelined by Darkseid’s all-male council. The dialogue here could easily be ripped from present-day Twitter (honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were) as the rest of the council display their misogyny openly, daring Granny to react. DeSaad’s comment about “special treatment” for Granny’s Furies sticks out as particularly relevant to today’s poisonous discourse. We cycle back to another flashback sequence, and this is when Castellucci really hammers home the point she’s driving at – powerful men will do whatever they want if there are no consequences to their actions. Darkseid, the big bad of the DC Universe, makes his way to Granny’s chambers and forces her to sleep with him, threatening banishment if she refuses and rewards if she complies.
This doesn’t seem out of character for Darkseid, even if it’s not something we’ve seen from him before – it’s established that he enslaved and impregnated a woman (Tigra) to create a child (Orion) that he could use for his own ends and had his mother murdered, so he certainly has a history of cruelty towards women. Of course, Darkseid has no interest in rewarding Goodness – he’s saying whatever he thinks will convince her to lower her guard. This is revealed the following morning as Granny is brushed aside at another council meeting and given command of the orphanage, which Steppenwolf scornfully derides as “women’s work.”
As we shift focus back to the present for the remainder of the issue, Castellucci continues to turn the screws tighter. If this comic were written by a male writer, I’d have serious concerns about their mental state considering the torrent of misogyny that’s piled upon the Furies here, the absolute nadir being the “special inspection” to which they’re subjected by Darkseid and his leering lieutenants. Instead, it’s clear that Castellucci is just trying to turn up the pressure cooker until the moment when one of the Furies snaps comes as a blessed relief. Following an extremely handsy “training session” from Willik, it’s Aurelie who’s had enough, and cuts the throat of Steppenwolf’s illegitimate son during a mission with Barda. The body is buried on a passing comet and leaves us wondering just how quickly repercussions will result from Aurelie’s actions.
As previously mentioned, the Kirby-styled flashback sequences stand out; Adriana Melo doesn’t try to mimic the intensely blocky look of Kirby’s style, but she definitely simplifies her style for these sections to capture the same feel. In the present-day sequences, the frustration and anger of the Furies at the scorn and derision they receive comes through in the tightness of their facial expressions. There are some great action sequences throughout. Hi-Fi’s colours imbue the pages with a warm glow that is somewhat at odds with the unpleasantness of the story but pleasing to look at, nevertheless.
To sum up, Female Furies #1 is a spiky, fierce, determined comic – the team have set out their vision for the future of the Fourth World, and it’s most definitely female. It’s a statement of intent that mimics the misogyny we see in our real-world society, and I hope we see more of the team bringing their righteous fury down on the misogynists of Apokolips in upcoming issues!
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Chris has been writing comics for a large chunk of his life, but only started making them properly in 2011. He’s worked with chap-hop superstar Professor Elemental on a series of anthology comics as well as writing stories for a number of prestigious small press publications including Futurequake, Aces Weekly and the Psychedelic Journal and creating his own comic book series ‘Brigantia’ with artist Melissa Trender.