Jook Joint #1 // Review
Content Warning: Jook Joint contains scenes depicting sexual assault and domestic abuse
Jook Joint is a dark and macabre story following Mahalia, the proprietor of a jazz club who, much like the rest of the women in this world, is not what she seems. Mahalia is also a powerful voodoo priestess with a score to settle with abusive men. Issue one is written by Tee Franklin, with art by Alitha E. Martinez, coloring by Shari Chankhamma, and lettering by Taylor Esposito.
There are two simple rules at the Jook Joint: “Keep your hands to yourself” and “respect everyone.” Patrons would be wise to follow these rules if they wish to “live to see tomorrow,” because Mahalia is not afraid to take down any creeps or abusers. She also extends her help to women like Heloise, who do not frequent the club, but are the victims of abusive husbands.
What makes the writing in this story so powerful is that Franklin is a survivor of an abusive relationship. While the story does contain supernatural elements, the main plot of helping women avoid abusers and escape abusive relationships feels so meaningful and real because of Franklin’s personal experience and the emotion she puts into the story.
A lot of scenes in this issue are dark and disturbing. There are mutilated, half-consumed bodies, characters being torn apart, and a lot of blood and gore. Part of the reason this is so disturbing is because Martinez draws the scenes so realistically. This story is like reading a horror movie. Chankhamma’s coloring works with the dark themes, using muted colors in blacks, blues, and grays. Mahalia is contrasted with her surroundings, dressed in yellows and oranges, and wearing necklaces of claws and turquoise beads. It gives her the look of a powerful, magical main character.
At the end of issue one, many questions are still left unanswered, questions such as where does Mahalia’s power come from, who are the women she cares for, and what will Heloise chose? Will she leave her abusive husband and join Mahalia’s coven? These questions and more will hopefully be answered in the next issue. Jook Joint is difficult to read, but well worth it.