Emet Comics is a new comic book company that I discovered at Long Beach Comic Con. The main draw for me was that this independent company highlights female comic creators. The first comic showcased out of the company is Romeo and Juliet and Guns, a retelling of the Shakespeare classic set in the modern times with guns. Lots and lots of guns.
Immediately, comparisons between the Romeo+Juliet movie (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes) came to mind. This time, there was much more diversity in the main characters. This version of Juliet Montague is Jo Montoya (her name is Jo-don’t call her Juliet). She has a much more active role in the story than Juliet’s choice to hide away in her room. The comic opens up right into the middle of assassin action with Jo about to take the hit on some contract. Unfortunately for her team, the Capulets have also wandered in to take this indivdual out themselves. It all goes wrong for Jo and this version of Romeo Capulet, Roman Capulet. Jo and Roman fall into a hole and are stuck under all the debris together.
The connection to the Romeo and Juliet classic play is very thin. The families carry grudges to the death but everything else is completely different. The story speeds forward, leaving very little chance for the reader to connect with the characters.This is a complete change from the original play , where the pacing allows for character development and connection. The parents of both families are quite different –not equal in dignity at all. Both have a more heavy hand in dealing out the violence and have greater influence in this story. The “romance” between Jo and Roman happens so quickly that led me to speculate if it was genuine or a ruse on the part of one or both to weaken the other.
The classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, for all of it’s annoyances, is a love story between two young people surrounded by circumstances that seek to separate them. It is a story of tragedy (due mostly to miscommunication) for their star crossed love wrought with tension and guilt that I am not seeing at all in this comic. The romance between Jo and Roman was quick and forced. Just being stuck in the same space for 36 hours isn’t really enough for these two to strike up a romance. I expected more tension with the enclosed space forcing one another to see the other as more than an enemy. Instead it just zips right on through
The comic creator is Emily Dell. Her background as a director shows how much she favors using diverse characters in urban landscapes. Her movie “B-girl” is a good visual example of her style. It’s unconventional, a bit awkward, but definitely full of determination and passion. Her heroines greatly reflect this in their postures and actions.
The art by Mollie Elizabeth Helms is beautiful in terms of character design. Jo Montoya is fantastic. The transitions and action panels were a bit unclear and made reading the panels a bit frustrating. Sometimes the trajectory of the weapons seemed off or the emotions playing out on the faces were hard to read. Otherwise, her style was a great complement to Dell’s writing.
The direction the story seems to go by the end of the issue indicates that this is more of a chase story than a love story. This could still end up as a tragedy but I see that more between the parents. Both parents are willing to train their own children in the deadly arts just to continue their grudge is pretty much a red flag that they are crazy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see if Jo and Roman teamed up against their parents or something of that sort.
The book is off to a shaky, but passionate, start. Here’s hoping it picks up as the tale moves forward.
Romeo and Juliet and Guns can be purchased directly from the website or at select comic book retailers. I would call ahead but I am pretty sure Meltdown Comics on Sunset Blvd carries copies
Emet Comics was founded in January 2015 by a community of female filmmakers to empower storytellers and artists who didn’t feel like they had a platform for their diverse stories. It is widely known that media images can be incredibly powerful in influencing biases that marginalize young women, often making them feel like they aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, or brave enough. Emet Comics aims to empower young women to see themselves as the beautiful and amazing people that they are; to see themselves in the driver seat of their lives and to dare to dream the impossible! Through bold and diverse comics, Emet’s creators are proving that women are not afraid to take risks, dream, and lead adventurous lives. They hope to create a movement to empower female storytellers and in turn empower women all over the world.www.emetcomics.com