Alien Boss Women Take Down Abusive Men In New Comic 'Female Furies' -- Read The First 5 Pages
Imagine The Handmaid's Tale in outer space. That's what Female Furies feels like. The new DC Comics release, out today, tells the story of women fighters on the oppressive planet of Apokolips taking down abusive men -- and taking back the power. (You can read the first 5 pages below.)
It's a feminist reimagining, by L.A. writer Cecil Castelucci, of characters created in the early 1970s by legendary comic book artist/writer Jack Kirby.
"I'm a lady, and so I'm interested in telling those kinds of stories, and I've certainly lived those kinds of stories, just as many people have," Castelucci told LAist. "I think that women have been longing to tell these stories forever in comics."
Castelucci said she felt now was an organic time to take a look at these classic female characters in a new way, taking what was already in the DNA of the original Kirby stories and modernizing it.
Female Furies also follows the critically acclaimed, mind-bending series Mister Miracle by writer/former CIA agent Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads, which also utilized characters from the same family of Kirby creations. Castelucci was quick to note that her work isn't taking any inspiration from that book, but that it's working in parallel.
"Because I feel like Tom's book is very domestic -- it's a domestic drama that he did, very tender in ways and dealing with manhood in a much different way than maybe we normally see that," Catelucci said. "And I feel like mine is taking the opposite view -- not of domestic drama, but looking at women, and power, and struggles for power, and empowerment."
There's a beauty pageant scene in the first issue that's so surreal it may remind readers of Mister Miracle. But it's not meant to be surreal -- it's a heightened look at the actual, real-life hoops that women are forced to jump through by men.
"I mean, they have a smile contest. And I think every woman on the entire planet has heard the phrase before, 'Hey sweetheart, why don't you smile?'" Castelucci said. "So it was more about the absurdity of all the things that a woman has to do just to be seen, and then still be dismissed."
Among the other new perspectives in the book is a look at the classic sadistic character Granny Goodness -- when she was young. It shows the abuse that she faced as the only woman in the evil Darkseid's inner circle, while still being pushed to the side. Castelucci wanted to juxtapose that with what the next generation of women face.
"I think we see that a lot in feminism today, too -- women who were in the workspace in the '50s, '60s, and '70s certainly dealt with things differently, because it was a different time, than women do now," Castelucci said.
Castelucci went deep on the original Kirby stories, known as the Fourth World. She was taken with Kirby's expert fictional world-building.
"He's really trying to address a lot of different ideas, about good and evil, and genetics, and power, and women -- it's all in there," Castelucci said.
The art on Female Furies is by Adriana Melo, who Castelucci said is trying to keep the style of the book true to the original Kirby art, including the way he filled his pages with action.
"A lot of the comics I've done in the past have been more indie, or weird, and not so action-packed," Castelucci said. In Female Furies, Castelucci said that she has around three fight scenes an issue.
"And I think that, as a woman, we both know what we're talking about when we're trying to do these things, and I think she brings a real sensitivity to some very, very difficult moments that happen in the book," Castelucci said.
In the first issue, that includes sexual assault, physical abuse, and more.
Like Mister Miracle, Female Furies also takes place outside the core DC Comics universe -- which Castelucci said gives her the freedom to do her own thing.
"What I would hope is, much like Tom's Mister Miracle, is that it enhances and deepens your appreciation of the original," Castelucci said, "and perhaps gives you a little more insight to those characters as they are in continuity -- a little bit more depth."
Castelucci has been working in comic books for more than a decade, starting with the Plain Janes, but in the last few years she's been brought on to offer her take on some classic DC Comics characters. She said that her work has evolved over her years in comics as she's continued to create.
"It was very difficult when I started to figure out how to pace the story sequentially -- how to move from panel to panel. And I remember calling [Plain Janes artist] Jim Rugg at one point, crying, and saying 'I don't know how to get to the next panel!'" Castelucci said. "And I think Jim gave me the best advice that I ever got in comics, which was, 'I'm your swim buddy. We're in this together, because that's what comics is -- it's a team.' And he was like, 'Write whatever crazy thing you want, and I'll figure it out.'"
Since then, Castelucci said, her scripts have turned into conversations with the artist she's working with. Depending on her partner, she has different approaches, from looser to more tightly scripted stories.
"With Adriana and I, we had a Pinterest," Castelucci said. "I made a Pinterest where I broke down each of the characters, and Apokolips, and just found pictures of women, and their bodies, and movement, so that we could have a visual vocabulary together."
With this book, Castelucci said, she wants to show readers that there are a lot of different kinds of stories, lots of ways to tell them, and lots of angles to get at the same stories.
"I think that [the Female Furies], they're so formidable, and I can't wait for hopefully a larger audience to really get to know them," Castelucci said.
You can get to know the Female Furies in Female Furies #1, in comic book stores and available digitally on Wednesday. Read preview pages from the comic here:
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