Review - Mafiosa #1

"Ladies must smile. They must speak when they're spoken to."

The life of a gangster is one that can be luxurious at times, but always with an ever-present threat of death. In Mafiosa #1 from Rainwerks, leave it to a lady to challenge all the notions of being a gangster. The issue is written by Sunshine Barbito, penciled by D├ębora Carita, colored by Mariacristina Federico and lettered by Clem Robins.

Nicoletta Marchesi is the youngest of five children in a family of first generation Sicilian Americans who have established a Mafia family in Brooklyn, New York in the early 1900s. Nicoletta is a precocious and beautiful eighteen year old who, unlike her sisters, is very much a tomboy and grew up always challenging her two older brothers at every turn. But when Nicoletta confronts her father Tommaso and announces her desire to join the family business alongside her brothers, crisis ensues.

Establishing Nicoletta Marchesi as a very progressive woman in an otherwise non-progressive era is an interesting take on the part of Barbito. coletta is facing off against the family tradition as well as those of society at large and Barbito writes her very intelligently. The 1900s were full of gangsters--who were essentially all male--and Barbito writes Nicoletta as something of a counter to that trend. Her general precociousness also works out very well for the context of the larger story as it establishes the plot in a way that makes sense. The dialogue throughout the issue is well-thought out as well, as Barbito works in some of the societal expectations foisted upon women as a means of further characterizing Nicoletta as a viable protagonist.

There's a very nice sense of nostalgia in Carita's linework as it shows a heavy inspiration by classic comic strips as the characters are illustrated with an attention to detail through fine linework. All the characters are dressed in a way that makes sense for the book's setting and helps the reader feel as if they've been transported to another era. The settings also feel fairly fleshed out, although Carita does contain a lot of the action within the panels. This actually achieves the aforementioned comic strip effect, but it also keeps things clean and organized for the reader. Federico's colors further the nostalgia as the book is awash in paler tones that effectively allow the light of the apartment they live in as well as the dark of a clandestine meeting to show well.

There's a lot to be said about the younger generation seeking supplant the older generation, but Nicoletta is also supplanting traditional gender stereotypes along the way. Mafiosa #1 does a great job with this and it asks the reader to challenge previously defined norms as they read the book. Barbito's script is paced very well and lays a great groundwork for Nicoletta to become a credible successor to her father's business. Carita's artwork is a great match for the book as it captures the essence of the Prohibition Era gangsters well. Mafiosa #1 is a solid book that sets a goal for itself that it relatively easily attains.

Mafiosa #1 is available now.