This month’s edition of “Around the Web” features a comic titled “Joseph & Yusra.” It is written and drawn by Monique Blaize.
So, a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim walk into a Manga comic…nah, I got nothing to follow that up with. What do you get when you add a long standing religious conflict, super powers, and Manga? You get this webcomic. Of course, you probably could figure that out, because otherwise, why would I bother asking the question. Simply put, this is the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a Muslim girl named Yusra, and a Jewish boy named Joseph. Yusra was sent to live with her Aunt in America after an attack kills her parents, and her other relatives only wanted her brother. On a playground, she meets this boy named Joseph, and they become close friends. What makes this more extraordinary is that (spoiler alert) she can’t speak any English. They’ve been communicating telepathically. Things get complicated a few years later. I won’t detail how. For that, you’ll need to read the comic. Though I will say that it includes super powers, mysteries, intrigue, moral values, etc…
I really want to like this comic, and as I read all 387 pages of it, I mostly did. Where I think this comic excels is with the day-to-day lives of the characters. The characters are well defined, and I genuinely cared about what they were going through. The things that took me out of the story were developments that had to deal with their special abilities and (spoiler alert) Joseph’s Catholic cousin named Mary spying on and testing them. It’s not like it was bad. It just make it feel like there are 2 different stories going on. The story of two friends from opposite sides of a conflict is a fine story on its own. An unsuspecting person having a special gift, and a larger role to play in the conflict is also a fine story. But I feel that combining those two elements doesn’t work. I think it’s the use of a real world conflict that makes it difficult for me to accept. Had a different world been created with the same circumstances, I may not find any issues with it. That may be my personal bias, though.
The art is done in a Manga style. It’s okay. It’s Manga. If you like that style, you’ll think the art is fine. If you don’t, then you’re not going to like it. There’s really not much more to say about it. You can tell the characters apart? That’s good. I also want to point out my favorite ongoing joke in the strip. Joseph takes great care not to touch Yusra, because that’s the proper thing to do. However, there are many moments throughout the story where this just can’t be avoided, and they always lead to humorous, awkward moments. But, they are rare enough to be enjoyable, and not tire out.
In the end, I do recommend that you read this comic. Despite what flaws exist, there is plenty to like about it. And it shouldn’t take you too long to start at the beginning and read all the way through. I did just that yesterday.