cover image The Big She-Bang: The Herstory of the Universe According to God the Mother

The Big She-Bang: The Herstory of the Universe According to God the Mother

Marisa Acocella. Harper Wave, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-290566-6

Acocella (Anna Tenna) rewrites history and myth to center the “divine feminine” in a heartfelt if uneven graphic novel. Acocella’s cartoon alter ego gets a visit in her apartment by God, a gigantic, sparkling cosmic woman in a bell-bottomed jumpsuit, who dictates the woman-powered true history of creation. In this alternative gospel, the balance of masculine and feminine on Earth was accidentally upset, creating the patriarchal world. More visitors soon join: Mother Earth (who has “post-traumatic deluge disorder”), Eve (who fries evil with her laser eyes), the Venus of Willendorf, Pope Joan, and a posse of rape victims from Greek mythology. Acocella inserts snark into their lectures (“Do you know how hard it is to find a boyfriend in New York, let alone a man like Jesus?”), but can’t conceal the narrative’s didactic, repetitive nature and questionable historical claims, such as the oft-repeated but unlikely figure of nine million women killed in witch trials. Acocella’s flat, caricatured art isn’t up to the task of rendering divine revelation, and her scribbly lettering can be hard to parse. The parade of goddesses, saints and mythological figures are both energetic and awkward in their design. The book’s call to turn history toward a kinder, equality-based future is admirable, but there’s a gulf between its noble feminist ambitions and wobbly execution. Agent: Elizabeth Sheinkman; Peters, Fraser & Dunlop Group. (Nov.)