Writer: Joanne Starer
Artist: Khary Randolph
Letters: Andworld Design
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Release Date: July 12th, 2023
Sirens of the City #1 is the start of a new urban fantasy series set in 1987 focusing on a teenage girl named Layla. Layla’s dealing with both an unexpected pregnancy and powers that she’s manifesting, powers that cause her adoptive parents to kick her out of the house. Living on the streets of New York, Layla struggles to survive and find her birth mother, even as other more powerful figures in New York have plans for her. This is a fantastic beginning to a series with an edgy punk sensibility and an interesting cast of characters.
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New York is as much of a character in Sirens of the City #1 as the Layla and the rest of the cast. This is the awe-inspiring New York of the late 1980’s, the last great decade of the city, before it was “cleaned up” and gentrified. Layla, as well as most of the other characters in the book, has a great visual design. The tips of her long spiky dreadlocks are dyed blue and she wears a spiked collar and leather jacket with shoulder spikes. Given that Layla is anti-social and raging against the world, it seems fitting that her clothing and hair would be as spiked as her personality. Finishing off her ensemble is a pair of combat boots and a necklace with a symbol that looks simultaneously ancient and modern, given to her by her birth mother and which may be the key to her origins.
Writer Joanne Starer makes Layla seem genuine, with real reactions to the world that I imagine any teenage girl in her situation would feel. She’s interested in one of the male characters, but simultaneously pushes him away when he tries to help her. The other characters in the book range from fun to creepy. One character simply called “The Rat King” has the ability to control snakes, rodents, etc. and always has a snake draped around him as if it’s a fashion accessory. When Layla shows up to a rave, he watches her the whole time with an unblinking stare that makes you wonder what malevolent things he’s imagining for her. This world feels like a much edgier version of an X-Men book, with some people manifesting powers at a young age and the existence of creatures called Sirens who can control people with their glowing blue eyes. Layla’s a Siren and everyone seems to know it but her. In one scene, we see her use her powers on someone with unexpected tragic consequences. She seems both thankful and horrified by her power to control others.
As mentioned above, Khary Randolph’s art on Sirens of the City #1 captures the vibe of 1980’s New York beautifully, and every character in the book has a unique design that fits with the time period. Most of the book is black and white, with splashes of color in places. The lack of color enhances the art, making it more stark and detailed. The characters are wonderfully expressive and the only thing I regret is that the book’s not “Treasury Edition” size so I can drink in every panel.
Sirens of the City #1 is a blast and my favorite book of the week. I enjoyed this issue and I’m looking forward to what’s to come. Layla’s a fascinating character with a great power set and the book perfectly sets up this world, dropping tantalizing hints of what’s to come. Highly recommended.