Agents of the Realm

The cringily cliche title of this modern, Western take on the magical girl genre doesn’t do it justice — this is an excellent comic. I’m pushing this post out with kind of Lite analysis because the creator is running a kickstarter right now to get physical copies printed, and you all should def support her!

The backstory and worldbulding are the weakest parts of this story — they’re hamhanded, cliche and not particularly interesting. But the present-day setup is interesting and unique for the genre, and the characters are just lovely. The art is also very, very pretty — I love the faux-watercolor thing going on, and the loving detail put into every frame.

That detail extends to the characters, who aren’t just from diverse backgrounds, but all have distinct looks and features instead of being a paletteswapped version of the same, basic female template.

From a structure prospective, the story is written very well. It doesn’t waste time on stupid setup, it throws you into the action and mercifully starts where it starts. It has faith its readers can keep up, and moves along at a brisk pace. The first volume, at least, was clearly carefully plotted and written with a specific direction in mind, which is more than most comics can say.

This is really a character-driven piece, though, and you can tell each of the five girls that make up the mahou-shoujo team have been lovingly crafted. I’d go as far as to wager they’re based on personal experiences and real people. Norah, the protagonist, is relatable, shy but strong, overwhelmed by the world she’s been thrust into but rising to the challenge. Paige is my favorite, I think — she reminds me the most of myself, both in her hostile facade that belies insecurity and in her looks. All the girls come from unique backgrounds and have distinct personalities, and I’m sure any reader would find one they identify with.

It’s funny, actually — do you remember the Spice Girls and how part of their whole thing was how ~each one had a unique trait like a real girl~ and girls would be all, I’m Sporty Spice! I’m Baby Spice! etc? That never really took for me because it was so dishonest, so filtered through marketing and beauty standards and weird infantilization and racism (really, the black girl was ‘scary spice’, really?). But I think this is actually the kind of group of girls who really achieve this ‘everygirl’ dynamic, and I can’t help thinking this would be an excellent comic to give to daughters, young cousins, nieces, etc., to give them someone to relate to. It’s really beauitful its in execution of inclusivity.

One of the other major themes is positive female relationships, and it does this wonderfully as well. The girls are all kind to each other and well-intentioned, and even as Norah is overwhelmed by all the new people it’s clear they’re good people and having friends will be a plus.

Often, too, media makes you choose between “women as friends” and “women as lovers” for your Positive Female Interaction, and I’m happy to say this has both!

Anyway, overall this is a wonderful, entertaining, and very pretty comic and you guys should check it out.

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