Vicious, Visceral, Victorian: Should You Be Reading ‘Insexts’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
Written by Marguerite Bennett, with art by Ariela Kristantina and colors by Bryan Valenza, Insexts is a horror series that debuted as part of creator-owned publisher Aftershock Comics' launch line-up in December 2015. The series follows two women who love each other in a world that is hostile to their love and their gender. Oh, and both have insect powers.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
A dark and haunting tale set in Victorian England, Insexts (styled as "inSEXts") centers on Lady Bertram, held under the thumb of a boorish and controlling husband, and the love she shares with her maid Mariah.
It isn’t long before their love leads to a bloody and literal rebirth --- resulting in the arrival of Mariah and Lady Bertram’s, child and the death of Lady Bertram’s husband --- along with gorgeous new wings, and powers for the pair of them.
Rumors swirl around the new lovers, who take to the shadows to hide their child. But they are not the only creatures that haunt the streets --- there is something wild out there, carving up young woman, and as bodies mount, the two attempt to save who they can and keep their secrets in the dark.
WHO’S IT BY?
Writer Marguerite Bennett is arguably best known for her work with artist Marguerite Sauvage on the alternate history comic DC Comics Bombshells, inspired by the 1940s-styled pinup superheroine statues of the same name. One of Bennett’s first major works was the one-shot “The Joker’s Daughter” with artist Meghan Hetrick. She has also worked on Red Sonja with Aneke, Years of Future Past with Mike Norton, and Angela: Queen of Hel with Stephanie Hans and Kim Jacinto. Her work is feminist, fun and highly literary.
Ariela Kristantina is a somewhat new artist to the scene. Her art has focused on the visceral since appearing in 2014’s The Logan Legacy, followed by her work on conspiracy theory-filled sci-fi comic Deep State. Her work on Insexts is bold and refreshing; if there is any justice, this will be just the first of many unique comics from Kristantina.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Insexts presents a bleak and highly sexual Victorian world. The pages are beautiful and filled with color --- whether of a newborn baby’s skin, wings erupting from the back of a mother, or blood staining the sharp teeth protruding from her chest. Its many feminist asides will as frequently tackle contemporary sexist ideas as point out more antiquated mores. Indeed, Insexts is one of the most heavily feminists works published today; you need only look at the symbolism of beautiful butterfly wings sprouting from the back of a woman as her controlling husband lies dead in their bed.
Original songs and poems fill the pages, as frequently as some comics feature sound effects. Erotic scenes are beautiful, appear often, and are never exploitative. Most stories detailing woman-on-woman love tend to have it as an aside or as a means of titillation, but here it is as vital to the story and as powerful and real as the relationship between Odysseus and Penelope, Lancelot and Guinevere, or Bucky and Cap.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Definitely not for kids. If you like to try new things, and read comics that are unlike anything you've read before, Insexts is for you. This book is great for anyone interested in reading highly intelligent, and highly violent, feminist erotica.
This is a series that will appeal to any horror fans tired of the worn-out “man versus mysterious monster from the woods” stories. If you enjoyed the tone of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but could have done without the racism and misogyny, you’ll love this.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
Issues # 1-4 are out now. The series is published by Aftershock Comics, and is available on Comixology and from better comics stores. Make sure to pre-order your copies!