Writer: Cara Ellison
Illustrator: Sally Cantirino
WHAT IS IT?
When a group of retired superhero women reunites, they are again faced with interpersonal conflict and public media scrutiny. The Final Girls takes a superhero action story and layers it with poignant drama.
This five-part miniseries is a mashup of Birds of Prey and Promising Young Woman.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In a dystopian version of Scotland, women are still targeted victims of misogyny, abuse, and online gossip news outlets--especially if those women have superpowers. Six years after the most talked about women superhero team disbanded, the nearly immortal working hero, Scáthach, calls upon her former sisters-in-arms to punish a certain problematic "hero" named Claymore. The Final Girls track down Claymore and punish him. Problem solved, right?
Unfortunately, Claymore is popular and beloved in the eyes of the public. Conversely, after scandals of cheating and divorce erupted years ago, the Final Girls were scrutinized as both heroes and women by the biased media. When Selkie accidentally spreads rumors that Claymore is cheating on his wife, Ash, the Final Girls' involvement with Claymore snowballs into a media storm no one can control.
Will past traumas tear the Final Girls apart once more? Can they trust anyone when the news insists on pitting them against one another and tearing them down? Will Claymore pay for his mounting transgressions and abuse?
Cara Ellison understands her characters deeply. Ellison differentiates the voices of each Final Girl, lavishing attention to individuality while covering a wide berth of divergent personalities.
Sally Cantirino masters illustrative depictions reflecting human emotion. In particular, Cantirino hones in on facial features and displays of raw turmoil when drawing Scáthach and Ash.
Colorists Gab Contreras & Chefel Peterson crank up the volume on Cantirino's punk rock aesthetic through a gothic color palette offset by bold dashes of neon pink.
Joamette Gil's lettering is a tour de force in this comic about flawed and hurting individuals. An italicized typeface appropriately represents Kogarashi's words in caption boxes when she hurriedly recounts the unfathomable events occurring.
When the Final Girls use their superpowers, Cantirino's scratchy lines and the colorists' intense hues add density to the often terrifying exhibitions of these powers.
When Ash's wounded emotions coalesce, her powers explode in dauntingly illustrated panels and splash pages. Accompanied by Gil's spiked, thick black letters that fill the speech balloons, these scenes work incredibly to convey Ash's psychological damage.
Prose pages imitating gossip site news reports show how The Final Girls' real emotions and conflicts end up being twisted for entertainment's sake. While sometimes overwhelming, these end pages in each issue successfully present the interplay between perception and being perceived by a biased media and public.
The events unfold purposefully slow at first, giving readers enough information to chew on while gradually pushing smaller details into focus. This pacing mirrors the reality the Final Girls face in the story: Each woman never sees the truth of all the facts until the end and must regain one another's trust.
A scene in one of the final issues reveals a harrowing portrayal of how sexual assault affects an individual's entire sense of being. It's a sequence of panels you'll think back to for the rest of your life.
There's lots of great LGBTQ+ and diverse representation, as well as positive portrayals of female friendship in The Final Girls.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: This comic deals with extremely heavy subject matter, including but not limited to topics like suicide, sexual assault, violence, cheating, abuse, self-harm, toxic relationships, and profanity. These themes and topics will undoubtedly prove heavily triggering to certain readers.
The online news story-style prose helps develop the characters and narrative further, but the amount of text and images on the page may come across as difficult to read. Ultimately, they could have been condensed to a single page in most instances because the length makes the content feel redundant after a few paragraphs.
The comic jumps through different time periods sporadically, creating a somewhat confusing timeline. I appreciate the experimental techniques this comic employs, but the narrative often becomes hard to follow as a result.
Five main protagonists plus about three male secondary characters/antagonists comprise the narrative. Unfortunately, the five-issue length fails to grant enough individual attention to the multitudinous cast of characters. The concluding issue remains satisfactory, if not a bit fantastical, but further illuminates how quickly the story wraps up. I would have loved to see more issues to flesh out the characters more and slow the story pace for readers to really ruminate on each issue the comic presents.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
More stories about sexual assault need to be told. The Final Girls leaves nothing to the imagination in its presentation of sexual assault, the psychological and physiologically damaging aftermath sexual assault incurs, and the goal to enact restorative justice for survivors of sexual assault.
News headlines will take stories about survivors, infidelity, and broken friendships and turn them into performative entertainment and pieces of gossip. Even though the Final Girls are superheroes, this comic underscores how the media focuses on stereotypes about women's personal lives, ignoring what the women are actually doing to make the world a better place.
The Final Girls blends a palatable version of grief, catharsis, comedy, and drama together in a profound work of fiction. The story inside serves as a commentary on how the real stories about women who experience sexual assault are often warped by outsiders' perceptions. Women, their relationships, and their experiences are complex. The Final Girls wants readers to understand this nuance.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Alice in Leatherland by Iolanda Zanfardino & Elisa Romboli
The Secret Loves of Geek Girls by Various Creators
The Deadliest Bouquet by Erica Schultz & Carola Borelli
If you like the art:
I Walk With Monsters by Paul Cornell & Sally Cantirino
Human Remains by Peter Milligan & Sally Cantirino
Black's Myth by Eric Palicki & Wendell Cavalcanti
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Cara Ellison – Writer (@caraellison)
Cara is a narrative game director, bafta member, and writer.
She contributed to the comic anthology, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls.
Cara and Davey Wreden host the podcast, The Inspirational Quarterly.
Sally Cantirino – Illustrator (@sally_cantirino)
Sally self-published zines and comics in high school. She is an alumni of the Pre-College Program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and the Sequential Artists Workshop in Gainesville, Florida.
She has has contributed to anthologies and worked as an artist on comics like Last Song, We Have to Go Back, I Walk With Monsters, and the new title, Human Remains from Vault Comics.
She hails from New Jersey.
Gab Contreras – Colorist (@GabContrerasR)
Multitalented: Gab is a comic book colorist and illustrator, as well as a graphic designer for Editora Vuk.
Gab contributed her comic coloring skills Strange Tails and The Deadliest Bouquet, written by Erica Schultz. You can also find Gab's art in comics like Witchblood and TRUE KVLT.
Outlander: Hails from Lima, Peru.
Chefel Peterson – Colorist
Dream Team: Chefel color assisted Gab Contreras in The Deadliest Bouquet comic and Issue #7 of the Resilience: Creators Against COVID anthology.
Joamette Gil – Letterer
Multitalented: Joamette is a cartoonist, editor, and comic letterer.
Award Winner: She's a Prisim winning editor and operator of Power & Magic Press, publisher of titles like Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy and the award-winning Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology.
Joamette is a full-time freelancer living in Portland, Oregon.
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The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All The Final Girls characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Sally Cantirino and Cara Ellison or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED