Title: Witchy, Volume 2
Creators: Ariel Slamet Ries
Genres: Comics, fantasy
Publisher: Oni Press
Review copy: Library
Availability: Available now!
Summary: The eagerly awaited second collected volume of Ariel Slamet Ries’ hit online comic Witchy.
In the witch kingdom Hyalin, the strength of your magic is determined by the length of your hair. Low on magic and on the run after committing the ultimate heresy of cutting one’s hair, Nyneve and her raven companion, Banana, head into an ancient forest in search of safe transport. However, when Nyneve butts heads with the gruff and overbearing broom-maker Kaveh, she starts to wonder if she wouldn’t be better off in the hands of the Witch Guard.
Review: I went into Witchy, Volume 2 with pretty high expectations. I loved Witchy, Volume 1 (review here) and I was looking forward to a follow-up that would continue the incredible story I was introduced to. And if you’re not familiar, here’s how I summed up Witchy when I read Volume 1:
“Witchy follows one Nyneve, who has grown up beneath the shadow her father’s death at the hands of the Witch Guard — one that she might be conscripted to join. In the kingdom of Hyalin, your magic ability is measured by the length of your hair. The longer your hair, the stronger you are. But if you’re too powerful, the Witch Guard considers you a threat. Nyneve must grapple with her past and how to survive in Hyalin.”
Volume 1 had queer Asian witches, a talking bird, and incredibly layered fantasy worldbuilding — so of course, I loved it. (And if you haven’t read it, you should really read it before diving into the second volume!) Volume 2 delivers on the promise of the first volume, sending Nyneve on a journey into the forest to meet broom-maker Kaveh. It’s very much an inward looking story that focuses on growth, with a less intense and exciting pace than the first book.
While this slower story may not be your cup of tea (it was mine, but of course that doesn’t apply to everyone), there is a lot to love about the second collected volume of Witchy — Banana, the many queer characters, and the gorgeous art. It is just as stunning, rich, and fun to look at as ever. I’m a particular fan of the settings and the clothing throughout the story.
What really makes me happy about reading graphic novels in 2022 is just how many of them are queer, fantastical, and just a delight. It’s a really good time to get into reading comics, particularly if you’re looking for more queer and BIPOC representation. The Witchy series is a great series to start with, and I highly recommend checking out Volume 1, and moving onto Volume 2 if you enjoyed the first.
From what I can tell, the Witchy webcomic is ongoing, so I look forward to potentially reading a Volume 3 eventually. What I’m really, really looking forward to is creator Ariel Slamet Ries’s next graphic novel project: Strange Bedfellows. No idea when that’s coming out, but I’ll be keeping an eye out.
Recommendation: Get it soon!