Chelsea Cain applies an extremely discursive storytelling method to Man-Eaters. The result is that if you don’t become caught up in her quickfire sitcom dialogue and her Mad Magazine style detours into further background about why some teenage girls turn into giant killer cats, then much of what she’s doing seems padding, variations on what we’ve already been told. Using the entire fourth chapter of volume one to present articles and faked advertising tying in with the premise was an example. It’s creative, and there’s no reason a comic story shouldn’t incorporate other forms of storytelling (and vice-versa). However, a constant reinforcement of the same aspects of a world at the expense of picking up the pace and telling the story is frustrating for anyone who just wishes Cain would pick up the pace and tell the story.

Much of this book’s comic content is occupied by a conversation between Maude and her parents, very nicely drawn by Kate Niemczyk, giving Maude a distancing melancholy, her father an appealing helplessness and her mother the necessary strength to take on the world. The two main items other than the conversation are a plot about a girl disappearing from Maude’s school and the final chapter again avoiding any comic content by presenting a government circulated game intended to reinforce compliance. In itself it’s inventive, but as part of the bigger picture it’s another case of presenting the same story material in a different format.

A still intriguing story overall, a willingness to address issues that shouldn’t be taboo, good art and likeable characters mean there’s an awful lot to like about Man-Eaters, but the miniscule rate of progression is slowly strangling the positive aspects. God knows what it must be like to follow the series as a monthly comic. One day Man-Eaters will be released as an entire project between two covers and will surely read much better.