I waited for this book for months. Months! And for the most part, it was worth the wait. It’s very good.
I’ve read other stuff from Alex Segura, from his Pete Fernandez mystery books to the first edition of his Black Ghost graphic novel series. I love his interest in how journalism, urban corruption, and dogged investigative work come together to tell an entertaining tale. It’s right up my alley.
This ambitious novel set in the comic industry in 1970s New York City could fall flat for trying to do too much. This would have been a tricky first book to write. Fortunately, the veteran Segura knows how to steer the story in the right direction, mostly because the protagonist, Carmen Valdez, is so compelling.
I’ve written plenty of times in this space about my issues with men trying to write a first person perspective of a woman (and a queer one at that): it’s not that men shouldn’t do it, I just don’t know that it often translates smoothly on page. Despite some shortcomings on his end (I don’t know that I needed to keep exploring Carmen’s character by having people attracted to her and acting on it in inappropriate ways), I think Segura does a decent job. Carmen is a fully formed person, not a male wish fulfillment, and her experiences navigating the male-dominated comic industry as she tries to carve out some turf brought all the disparate threads Segura was trying to knit together to make a good story.
On top of that, the panels of the Lynx interspersed throughout the book are a lot of fun and play into the idea of how comics help people explore their identities (as it’s clear in the story how Carmen is exploring her queerness).
I enjoyed the heck out of this. It’s fun for comic and non-comic fan folk alike. A good slice of ol’ New York and an interesting mystery (though I think that’s the weakest part of the story but again, I prefer atmosphere to puzzles).