Re-Gifters is about Korean-American hapkido competitor Dixie. She blows her $200 entry fee for a big championship on a birthday present for fellow martial artist and crush Adam only to discover that not only is he disinterested in her present but also her! Completely off her game, Dixie must now fight the street rounds to get the chance to re-qualify for the championship where she takes on tough guy Dillinger. Re-Gifters is also the story of the warrior statue Dixie buys for Adam and its journey around LA.
Re-Gifters is the most accessible Minx comic if you're a guy: it features sport, tough guys, girls who act like tough guys and eye candy Megan. That is not to say it's not also entertaining for young women, in fact it is perfect for young women who are bored of the weak, bland, overly-girly lead characters that often appear in young adult media: Dixie and her very charming best friend Avril are tough-talking city girls who are more than capable of standing up for themselves (though the male characters do spend a lot of time talking down to them). Dixie is also trying to battle with her teenage hormones resulting in a volatile temper and a giant crush on Adam. When Avril makes Dixie over for Adam's birthday party Dixie is literally stripped from her armour revealing her more fragile side. This provides a nicely balanced heroine you instantly want to root for.
Adam is a douchebag. Not as much as a douchebag as Jake from Water Baby (Water Baby is probably the most adult of the Minx titles) but he gets pretty close. Not only does he not realise that Dixie is crushing on him (even when he makes her give him advice on how to get closer to Megan) but he gives the warrior statue to an equally unappreciative Megan without a second's thought and even plays mind games with Dixie when he thinks she might beat him in the hapkido championship. Apart from being blonde he really has very few redeeming features.
Though Dixie harbours feelings for Adam for the majority of the book the last thing you want is for her to get together with him. Enter Dillinger. Dillinger is the rather unbelievable bad boy. He's a tough guy with morals (not always logical morals) who, when he's not beating up Megan's brother is helping Dixie get out of her Adam-induced funk and win the championship. He is much more likeable than Adam but does feel strangely motivated. He's there to prove that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover (aka just because he's a street kid it doesn't mean he's out to murder you) but his desire to pound on Megan's admittedly annoying brother (a device to get the statue to continue to circulate LA) somewhat sullies it and makes when he is being nice a bit cheesy. The men in Dixie's family are always spot on though, in particular her twin brothers who are lively little monkeys and very endearing.
The ending is pretty predictable however because you're rooting for Dixie from the very beginning and she gets the ending she deserves (rather than the one she thinks she wants at the beginning) it has that warm, cute, satisfying feeling.
Much like the subject of Re-Gifters the art feels very male centric - it doesn't have the smoothness and artiness you expect from a graphic story aimed at young women - if anything it looks perfect for a comic aimed at pre-teen boys. I appreciate that a young woman new to graphic stories might reject it for something more elegant however if she is already into graphic novels she'll appreciate its indie feel and obvious quality. It somehow manages to balance simplicity with detail and is wonderfully lively - which is perfect for a story about martial arts. Also a quick thumbs up to Jesse from Good as Lily for the shading. It might just look like a bit of grey but that bit of grey adds so much dimension to Sonny and Marc's lines.
Re-Gifters is about learning to expand your horizons and by attempting to blend boys comics with a female protagonist it mostly succeeds on both physical and thematic levels. It is also a story about not only people but things going on journeys...so if you see a copy of Re-Gifters floating about it's probably the one I sent to Len. Do a blogger a favour and gift it on to someone you care about and maybe, like Dixie's statue, it might also eventually find its way back to Len.
You'll like Re-Gifters if you like:
Confessions of a Blabbermouth, My Faith in Frankie, The Next Karate Kid, Bamboo Blade, Peach Girl and being a tomboy.
Selected graphic novels also by Mike Carey:
Lucifer, The Sandman Presents: Petrefax and The Furies, various Hellblazer volumes, Batman: Gotham Knights #37: "Fear is the Key", Detective Comics #801-804: "The Barker: When You're Strange", My Faith in Frankie, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, various Crossing Midnight volumes, God Save the Queen, Faker #1-6, Confessions of a Blabbermouth, The Unwritten, Ultimate Elektra: Devil's Due #1-5, Spellbinders #1-6, various Fantastic Four volumes, various X-Men volumes, Ultimate Vision #1-5, Ender's Shadow, The Torch #1-8, Thor: Wolves of the North, Sigil #1-4, Red Sonja #0-6, Vampirella: Revelations, Wetworks: Worldstorm, Voodoo Child and The Stranded #1-5.
Novels also by Mike Carey:
The Devil You Know, Vicious Circle, Dead Men's Boots, Thicker Than Water, The Naming of the Beasts and The Steel Seraglio (co-written with Linda Carey and Louise Carey).
Also by Sonny Liew:
Fighting Turtle, Malinky Robot: Collected Stories & Other Bits, Marvel's Sense and Sensibility, Au Pays des Merveilles, Le Tour du monde en bande dessinée vol 2, Marvel Adventures Spiderman #50, Wonderland, Liquid City (Vol.1, 2), Flight (Vol. 2, 5, 8) and My Faith in Frankie.
Also by Marc Hempel:
Sandman: "The Kindly Ones", Breathtaker, Mars, Blood of the Innocent, Gregory, Tug & Buster, Marvel Fanfare, Epic Illustrated, Heavy Metal, Jonny Quest, Tarzan the Warrior, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Flinch, My Faith in Frankie, The Dreaming, Lucifer, and Disney Adventures.