Welcome to the revamped Panel Mania—a regular feature highlighting notable upcoming graphic novels. To kick things off, here's a first look at the inaugural book from new publishing imprint, Magnetic Press.
Founded by industry veterans Mike Kennedy and Wes Harris, Magnetic's focus is on bringing a selection of the best, perhaps overlooked, comics work from around the world to the attention of the English reading masses. To that end, it bought the rights to Naja, by French duo JD Morvan and Bengal. (Meka by the same team, is set for release later this year.) It's the first time either creator's work has been published in English.
Naja is a smooth, contemporary update on pulp noir: a tale of a singular assassin, physically incapable of feeling pain, forced to go off the grid once it becomes apparent the organization for which she works is attempting to kill her. That may sound rather standard, but Morvan and Bengal are an award-winning story-telling powerhouse, and what sets Naja apart is the inventive touches—narrated by an omniscient character whose identity remains a mystery until the end, showcasing a more psychological approach to the subject matter. Bengal's art has made him a star in Europe—loose, expressive and dynamic, fluidly angular visuals, coupled with a beautiful use of color, shown off to great effect as the story traverses around the globe.
Originally released in five separate volumes in France, this hardback collection, which goes on sale on May 28th, compiles the whole story in one satisfying, handsome 248-page chunk.