I’ve been fascinated with Mata Hari since I was young. For some reason I can clearly remember learning about her briefly in world history, but that little tease has kept me interested to adulthood. I even recently read the Paulo Coelho book about her. I go back and forth about whether she was a bad or good person, and generally settle that she was a mix of both. And I feel like this comic settles at that conclusion too.
This is a first issue, so that means that while you see her in present tense, in prison about to be executed for spying, you also get a good deal of back story. And the way this is done, cutting back and forth, is a bit jarring. I thought it could have been handled a bit smoother, but it’s not so much that it takes you out of the story.
I do love the art and how the illustrator doesn’t pull any punches in hiding sexuality or nudity. (this is not a kid friendly comic at all) The colors are lush when needed and in contrast to the starkness of the prison and the courtroom, the pops of color are lovely.
On the last page of this issue, there is a note from the author that tells you that she too is obsessed with Mata Hari and I feel like it easily shows in this first issue. There is a sort of reverence to the material that shows how much the writer feels. And it works really well for this particular story. I feel like you really need that passion when writing about a person who is so embroiled in the question of innocent or guilty? Strong independent woman or spy who used me?
I would give this a solid 3.5 stars, and can’t wait to see what Emma Beeby comes up with next. Mata Hari will be released by Dark Horse on Feb 21, 2018