With each issue of Mamo, I consider starting by saying there’s no one like creator Sas Milledge in terms of visual pacing. At least for her character’s “performances.” Throughout the issue (and never concurrently), protagonists Orla and Jo have these reaction shots where Milledge has just paced it so perfectly their emotions come alive. Milledge’s other pacing devices are expert, but this particular one seems singular. It’s filmic in a way comics, even talking head comics, rarely attempt.
Or maybe the artists never manage to pull it off because there’s a history of how reaction shots work in comics, and Milledge eschews it for something different. More modern.
It also just could be because Mamo takes place in a tranquil, patient setting—even when there’s danger, it’s slow-moving (or gives the appearance of slow-moving because moths aren’t fast until you’re trying to save one from a cat)—but I think it’s Milledge. She’s cracked something with Mamo’s character development arc. It’s not just the pacing of conversations and story beats; it’s the actual plot details. We find out more about magic this issue, only not as much from witch Orla as ostensible non-witch Jo.
Though the opening touches on how magic works in Mamo, and Orla invited Jo into the proverbial fold last issue, it’s just not necessarily as initially exciting as it might seem, being a witch. The two travel continue traveling around town, fixing up the various problems resulting from previous town witch (and Orla’s grandmother) passing without having a succession plan in place. We meet Jo’s uncle and his sheep; they’re acting super-weird, but they’re also super cute because they’re sheep, and Milledge brings a lightness into the book even as Jo and Orla are actually dealing with witch bones and their magical power.
But Jo then reveals she might have a shortcut to finding the other sites—she’s been lifelong pals with the birds around town, who can talk because Mamo’s always got magic, not just when witches are involved (something Milledge gently implied last issue). It also means Jo’s had a much more fantastical life than Orla assumed, changing their relationship dynamic just as they make a big discovery for the cliffhanger.
From the first issue, it was clear Mamo was going to be outstanding, but Milledge is upping the ante every issue. It’s superior work.
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