Werewolf barista Julie and her girlfriend Selena are on the rocks. Maybe they can get some bonding time in at the annual Mermaid Festival! Except when they meet up with a close friend of Selena’s, Julie feels awkward. And a beautiful stranger is following Julie around and… flirting with her? Awkward again. Worse, Julie’s prophetic friend Cassie pops in to tell her that she needs to break up with Selena or find herself in danger. Yikes!
Meanwhile, in a series of humorous, wacky asides, Chet; a centaur; and their partner, Manuel, navigate an internship with NewPals (a virtual pet company that is a pastiche of Neopets). While we don’t actually see their adventures, the comic includes periodic “NewPals Super Fun Pages”–illustrated worksheets such as word searches or crossword puzzles–that hint as to what is going on with that internship. Hint: it’s not what Chet and Manuel expected.
Like the first two volumes, this is a diverse, inclusive book. Julie is fat, Latina, and queer, and Selena is fat, Black, and queer, while Chet is nonbinary. None of these identities is ever the focus of questioning or discrimination. Indeed, the only part of her that protagonist Julie feels insecure about is the werewolf part.
Beyond its array of real-world identities, the Moonstruck comics feature a huge selection of different fantastical creatures. There are shapeshifters, minotaurs, fairies, and more; with this volume adding mermaids to the mix. The creators have come up with some fun and interesting accommodations to make suprernatural town of Blitheton accessible to all of its residents; including the water-filled wheelchair that Skyla the mermaid uses to move around on land.
While it still has fluff and humor, this volume turns up the angst compared to the first two. Julie and Selena have been wrangling relationship issues for awhile now, and Julie has been struggling with embarrassment and shame about her werewolf identity. Both of these get worse in volume three, and we finally get a glimpse of why Julie hates being a werewolf even though (A) Moonstruck’s werewolves do not lose control when they transform, so it’s not particularly dangerous, and (B) practically everyone in Blitheton is a supernatural creature.
The art continues to be cute and colorful, it’s palette slightly more saturated than what might be called pastel. The characters are distinct and easily recognized, as well as highly expressive. Most are a little roly-poly, with rounded edges that make them look soft and cute. Every so often, we get an excerpt from Julie’s favorite book series, Pleasant Mountain Sisters (Sweet Valley Twins, anyone?). These comics, drawn by Claudia Aguirre, feature a totally different art style, with bolder colors and more screen tones–and an all-human cast. Julie’s dream is to become a writer for this book series, and her love of this very “normal” world with no supernatural creatures in it recalls her desire to be a human and not a werewolf. This volume also includes some fun extras at the back, like fanart and character concept drawings.
Moonstruck continues to offer a largely sweet and gentle supernatural world, but this volume expands on the emotional turmoil of those incredibly soft and cuddly-looking werewolves. Hand it to fans of good-hearted, inclusive fantasy stories like Lumberjanes.
Moonstruck, Vol. 3: Troubled Waters
By Grace Ellis
Art by Shae Beagle and Claudia Aguirre
Image Comics, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: Teen
Series ISBNS and Order
Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16)
Character Traits: Black, Latinx, Queer
Creator Highlights: Lesbian