The idea of identity is one of the more prominent themes that seems to be recurring throughout Shanghai Red, and it’s one that I didn’t expect to be so invested in.
One of the great things about Rat Queens is its world building. I don’ know if you’ve noticed, but world building can be some of the most excruciatingly bland things to read, with too many adjective and metaphors trying to compare certain aspects of the world to ours.
Adulthood is often ripe for disappointment. It’s not just about learning that taxes are a thing for everyone, but about having to accept certain realities of the world. That doesn’t mean the magic of childhood has to be ruined; no, adulthood is about learning how to merge the reality of the world with the magic we all once believed in.
One of the things about serialized stories is that if there is a break in the story, then the viewer or consumer can become disinterested due to the amount of time that has passed. It’s why when TV shows come back on the air after a year-long break, viewership can sink.
The world is a hectic place; there is a cacophony of good and bad things trampling over one another that makes up life. It’s understandable, then, that some people just want peace. But what is peace without that chaos? What happens when you think have the world figured out, and then when you have grown old, you find out it’s not at all what you think it is? It’s a question that writer/illustrator Zep presents to us in this international sensation, A Strange & Beautiful Sound.
We’re currently living in a time when new ideas and beliefs are finally being discussed, challenging the preconceived notions that many have. One of the topics being discussed is individuals identifying as different genders aside from the one they were born with. A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovani and Tristan Jimmerson is a comic book that discusses this topic, which may be unfamiliar for some, in a way that is both respectable and compassionate.
Comparing a certain Netflix show about a female prison to Kaijumax is probably inevitable and understandable; the similarities do exist, and yet the differences are what make this a wonderful story.
Right off the bat, Shanghai Red #1 is not a pirate story, despite what the first few panels might have you believe. It’s something better.