Daughters of the Dragon: Deep Cuts TPB – Jed MacKay

3 out of 5

This is fun, but it’s really, really close to being a lot of fun, missing out due to its uber compressed storytelling style, and some slight missteps on art.

The ‘Daughters’ are Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, and any notion of introduction to these characters was apparently deemed unnecessary because surely they were popular enough from their appearances in Netflix’s Iron Fist and Luke Cage TV shows. Jed MacKay drops enough banter background to let us know that Knight knows her gun-shootin’ shit and has ties to the MCU, and Wing has got her sword-swinging training down pat, but the focus is on their friendship; and fair enough, that’s probably all we need to know, and their naturalistic back-and-forth patter is definitely one of the highlights of the book. However, this skipping past of some of the usual setup comic books might entail sets a precedent for how Jed plots this whole thing: a constant speedrun of 2-part story arcs that link a Big Bad for the Daughters to battle in issues five and six, but the series never escapes the feeling of dropping us in the middle of something, without knowing the whole story. There’s a sort of ideal version of this in the last story arc – the pacing temporarily slows, thanks to some brain washing, and then we get an expertly handled quick catchup – but the two arcs preceding that have a tough time of making it clear that the hijinx we’re witnessing are not random, but actually important, and have stakes.

Thankfully, MacKay’s dialogue keeps the whole thing clicking along well, and not just from the lead duo: Jed’s quite good at defining characters with their own voices right away, while also straying from the Marvel “template” of cute one-liners every other panel. And although these 2-part plots are too compressed and, subsequently, a bit too cluttered, the same clutter provides us with a lot of distraction, and much of it quite exciting and fun.

On the art side, it’s a mixed bag. Travel Foreman handles the first and last arc’s, and their thin-lined pencils and open panels initially give the book a really great vibe that matches its sass – a very Ocean’s 11 sense of “cool.” Jordan Gibson’s colors in issues 1 and 2 complement this breeziness exceedingly well. However, though issues 5 and 6 (colored a bit flatter than Gibson, by Andres Mossa) get off to a good start during the aforementioned bits that have room to breathe, once we transition to more frantic action, it feels like Foreman can’t quite keep up – the choreography doesn’t move as well, and the open panels start to feel like shortcuts instead of purposeful affectations. In the middle, Joey Vazquez and colorist Rain Beredo do a wholly reliable job, but it’s closer to a more typical Marvel house style (leaning toward their more cartoonish looking books), and lacks the cinematic flair of Foreman’s work.

Overall, I had a good time reading the series, but it felt so close to being something that much better, with maybe an extra issue in each arc to allow for a bit slower pacing, with the same also maybe better allowing Foreman to do their thing.