Writer Saif Ahmed and artist Fabiana Mascolo’s “Yasmeen” has been one of the most effective and important comics of the past year, if not the past decade. This fifth issue in this 6-issue mini-series continues its exploration of trauma, idealogical divides, and socio-political issues in a way that is actually therapeutic. With a beautiful script and some of the series’ best art, this is yet another outstanding installment for “Yasmeen.”
“Yasmeen’s father tags along with the Iraqi army as they prepare for battle in hope to rescue Yasmeen from her new owner. While in 2016, Yasmeen’s mother has a surprise for her daughter who decided to put on hijab again.”
Writing & Plot
With this being a 6-issue mini, it’s only sensible that “Yasmeen” #5 begin to establish a sense of closure for both the protagonist and the people who’s lives she as impacted. Saif Ahmed’s script for this issue is full of comfort and warmth, while still offering commentary on the sobering tragedy that has befallen Yasmeen, her family, and the things that have happened to her new friends. I’ll admit that the high school subplot that involved a friend of Yasmeen’s being drugged and having nude photos shared around school at the time felt a little pigeonholed – it was solidly written, it just felt like it was in the wrong book. However, upon reading what this issue followed up that particular plot with, it I was sold. Yasmeen uses her platform and experience to teach her peers to not be ashamed of the traumatizing events that they are victims of and to remember that the assailants are always the only ones to blame. This being said, Ahmed does not fall into the disturbing trope of a woman becoming stronger through her sexual trauma. He instead demonstrates an understanding of having a character move on with her experience, and use it to help others. Yasmeen’s dealing with her own enslavement is handled with a sensitive but hopeful resolution for her and some of her family that also narratively feels well-plaved and natural. In terms of the boring technical stuff behind the writing, as always Ahmed delivers with smart pacing and believable, naturalistic dialogue that fits each character. This is yet another emotionally effective and resonant chapter in this outstanding series, and I can’t wait to see how Saif Ahmed chooses to end this story.
Fabiana Mascolo’s gorgeous and character-centric visuals reach a series-peak in “Yasmeen” #5. Her ever-present eye for the subtleties of human emotion are explored in their greatest capacity in this chapter, and her visual direction is a large part in this. Mascolo uses irregular panels and splash pages with a focus on key emotional moments. There are a couple particular scenes that will stay ingrained in my mind due to the attention they are given in the book. Of course Mascolo’s detail in her facial animations is stellar, as is her detail and design in settings and even clothing (which is given a lot of focus in this issue). Her colors are, as always, a feast for the eyes, as her use of bright shades in her palette. This series has been gifted with an artist that is able to bring a tonally appropriate aesthetic with gorgeous colors and excellent character drawing that pull the reader into the storyu with ease.
“Yasmeen” #5 is possibly the smartest issue of this series yet, with thoughtful examination of the issues that have been prevalent in this series from issue #1 but now also offering commentary on problems we see in the Western world on a daily basis. Saif Ahmed’s script validates the different trauma of individuals and uses it to come to a greater understanding and empathy for victims without needless pity. Fabiana Mascolo creates arguably her best work on this series thus far, with brilliant focus on intimate character moments through not just her pencils and color choice, but also her new use of panel direction. Be sure to pick up this issue when it hits your local comic shop on 12/23!