Graphic Novel Review, BY CHANCE OR PROVIDENCE

Becky Cloonan’s award-winning trilogy of melancholy and magic comes together nicely in a handsome new collected edition from Image Comics.

 

THE VERY BEST short stories, the ones that stick in your soul long after you read them, often derive their power from two important elements: A clever twist, or bit of irony, and a great big helping of emotion. It’s the magic that leaves an imprint upon us, and continues to haunt long after we’ve turned the final page of an oh-so-brief journey through someone else’s imagination.

In that sense, the three tales collected in By Chance or Providence—Wolves; The Mire; and Demeter—are short stories of genuine literary quality. The fact that they’re comics only proves how far comics have come.

Over the course of her collection, author and illustrator Becky Cloonan (Batman) carries us through the essential settings one would choose for a trio of medieval stories about love, loss, spirits, and curses. From forest to battlefield to lonely seaside cottage, Cloonan weaves a quilt of mystery which feels like something that’s been passed down for centuries.

The writing is lean. Nothing’s wasted. Cloonan tells her stories with a perfect balance of word and image. To this end, she gets a valuable assist from colorist Lee Loughridge.

If you like campfire stories written for grownups, this lovely volume should find a welcome home on your bookshelf.

BY CHANCE OR PROVIDENCE
Image Comics
Writer & Illustrator: Becky Cloonan
Color: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Rachel Deering

Print & Digital
126 pgs.
Age Rating: 15+

Images: Image Comics

                                            

 

 

Stephen Vincent D'Emidio is the editor and publisher of Wonder Alliance. steve@wonderalliance.com

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