Summary

Another emotionally painful chapter that explores the impossible task of trying to make a new normal after unfathomable trauma.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Writing/Plot
Art
Lettering

Review: YASMEEN #3 – Small Comforts Can Mean So Little

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Writer Saif Ahmed and artist Fabiana Mascolo return with another brilliant but emotionally heavy chapter with “Yasmeen” #3. While this new issue isn’t as unsettling as the last, it’s got just as much impact as it deals with this family’s desperate attempts to try and make a normal life in America, while also watching Yasmeen accept the life she had experienced in imprisonment. With a human-focused script and fantastic visual direction, this is easily becoming one of the most well-crafted and important comics of the year – if not the decade. If not ever.

“Split between two times in her life, Yasmeen tells the story of an Iraqi girl who survives slavery in the ISIS terrorist regime in Mosul. Yasmeen was a happy 16-year-old until she was captured by ISIS invading forces and was forced to find the courage within herself to endure slavery. After surviving long two years of slavery, she is freed, but has become a different person. Unable to connect to the things that she loved before, she must go through a different kind of struggle, as she tries to adjust to the normal life with her family as refugees in a foreign country, America.”

Writing & Plot

With this third issue of “Yasmeen,” Ahmed focuses primarily on both Yasmeen’s and her father’s attempts to establish a new normalcy, with the latter of the two almost unable to even look at his own daughter anymore. It also covers the frightening notion of Yasmeen having started to accept her horrible life in imprisonment as a relative normal, as well as dealing with classic post-9/11 racism and islamophobia. Ahmed manages to impact a new emotional point with every issue, and this one runs the gamut of heartbreaking realizations. The traumatizing and life-fracturing events that Yasmeen’s family went through obviously did the most damage to the titular character, but watching this family remain true to their faith while also attempting to find happiness again is a seldom-seen brand of devastation. Once again, the characterizations and dialogue writing of Saif Ahmed feel so right and appropriate they almost disappear into the story. If there is one minor issue with this chapter, it’s that the flashback and flashforward structure that this comic has had so far actually gets a tad confusing this time around. It isn’t exactly head-spinning, but it feels less neat then the two prior issues’ approach to this style. This one nitpick aside, this is yet again a brilliantly written and impactful piece of comics storytelling.

Art Direction

The character-focused and intimate nature of “Yasmeen” #3 is crafted largely by Fabiana Mascolo’s artistic interpretation of Ahmed’s script. close-up shots on faces and detailed expressions masterfully exhibit the range of emotions going on within each character’s mind, many of which are just implied through subtext. There are actually some sequences in this comic that build suspense and dread during Yasmeen’s time in captivity, and Mascolo often uses simultaneous cuts and shot/reverse shot compilations to create tension. The events that this comic deals with are very much a horror story, so opting to use such a tactic makes considerable sense. The color palette Mascolo employs is also interesting, as it primarily focuses on lighter colors and bright aesthetics. This makes for an interesting contrast, as this pleasant color range brightens the book in even its most unpleasant moments. If the colors had been too naturalistic or gritty, I daresay that the more brutal moments would be almost too much. Mascolo’s work on this comic is yet again a tonal slam dunk, offering fantastic visual direction and animation for this character-drama.

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“Yasmeen” #3 is an emotionally potent chapter about the pain of trying to find a new normal after unimaginable devastation. Saif Ahmed’s script contains an emotional focus that differs a bit from the previous two issues and develops the struggle of Yasmeen’s healing and her family’s attempts to reconcile their faith with what has happened to their daughter. Fabiana Mascolo crafts the intimate character storytelling with her detailed facial animations and stellar directorial eye. “Yasmeen” continues to be one of the most important comics being released right now, and at its current trajectory could end up becoming one of the most impactful pieces of the medium ever created. Be sure to order a copy of this issue from your local comic shop on 10/14!

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Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.

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