Created By: Joanne Starer & Khary Randolph
Written By: Joanne Starer
Art By: Khary Randolph
Lettered By: AndWorld Designs
Published By: BOOM! Studios
Sirens of the City started on Glass Eye Studios’ Substack before being published by BOOM! Studios. The dark fantasy, set in 1980s NYC, is the creation of writer Joanne Starer (The Gimmick) and artist Khary Randolph (Excellence). The duo have forged a tale of mythical creatures as denizens of an iconic time in New York City. Now, let’s step off the train and check out this story.
As the story opens, we find Layla crossing the street to enter a women’s health center. On her way in, she’s stopped by an abortion protester. He tells her that he’ll pray for Layla. She immediately retorts, “Go jump in front of a bus.” The protester proceeds to walk into the street and is killed by an oncoming bus. We find out that Layla has powers unbeknownst to her but known to others. She comes to NYC and is found by Jerome, the father of her baby. Jerome also has powers as he is a succubus, but they seem to be waning, and that’s possibly from having intercourse with Layla. After she rushes off after a conversation with Jerome, Layla is introduced to a cast of characters that inhabit a world of succubi, sires, vampires, lycans, and much more. With a baby of fantastic origins and uneasy truce throughout these mythical beings of NYC, how does Layla fit into all of this?
Joanne Starer’s writing hits the mark perfectly. It feels like a story done in the time period. There’s a wonderful blend of slick humor, boy meets girl, and drama highlighted by fantasy. The dialogue is such that I feel like I can hear each voice distinctively and even a couple of accents. The cast of characters is 80s to the core, and that’s one of the warmest parts of this comic. Setting an uneasy truce between factions of fantastical beings in the 1980s is inspired. Starer using succubus and sirens as leads is a nice change of pace. Most stories in fantasy or supernatural tend to focus on vampires or lycanthropes (werewolves), but we do get them among the ranks of characters.
Khary Randolph’s art is always impressive. The character designs are varied and fit the time and place. From the punk aesthetic to the hip-hop style and flavor, the wardrobe is right off the hottest stars on MTV… when they played music. The backgrounds are like a character themselves. You can feel the vibe of the streets, and it’s dead on in authenticity. Randolph also plants plenty of iconic cameos from yesteryear, like a certain artist and an MTV host. Always be on the lookout to see who might be in the crowd. The color is in black, white, and grey tones but with blue and red accents. Blue is implemented to signal a character using their powers, ie, Layla’s eyes and speech bubble. Red is more for lighting and effect. They are brilliantly added as another storytelling device.
A note I love is that the comic opens with a young, Black girl going to get an abortion but is blocked by a much older, White man. It’s a striking panel to start a comic off with but extremely telling, and I applaud it. Sadly, it’s still relevant even in 2023. It’s a great story beat to start off with such realism in a comic that houses vampires, werewolves, gargoyles, and other fairy folk.
In closing, Sirens of the City is a splendid mix of genres that’s unexpected. It pulls you in with story and art, with an ending that leaves you with many questions. I highly suggest you grab issue I and do a B-boy stance!
Antonio Pomares is an Afro-Latinx show host/geek culture personality. Currently, he hosts “The Hungry Bleek Show”. An aspiring “geek polymath”, Pomares has an open mind to all of geek culture. Pomares is an avid T-shirt and coffee mug collector.