In Sleeping Beauties #5, it is Day Five of Aurora, the strange disease that affects only women who fall asleep, leaving them shrouded in a web-like cocoon and unable to awaken. Fake news begins to proliferate on social media, leading to a literal bonfire of women across America. The only woman alive who sleeps and awakens, Evie Black, begins to use her powers to stave off the possibility of her death, and the end of the world. Your next mighty Major Spoilers review awaits!
SLEEPING BEAUTIES #5
Writer: Rio Youers
Artist: Alison Sampson
Colors: Triona Tree Farrell
Letterer: Valerie Lopez
Editor: Elizabeth Brei
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: January 6th, 2021
Previously in Sleeping Beauties: The world recoils as a strange sleeping sickness arrives, affecting only women. Attempts to remove the web-like cocoon that shrouds the dormant women only results in them becoming raving monsters, killing all around them. As the world begins to fall apart, desperate men try to work out what is happening, or take advantage of the collapse of civilization…
Sleeping Beauties #5 delves deeper into the confusion and breakdown of order as Aurora, the disease that claims sleeping women, continues to spread around the world. It’s an interesting parable about misogyny, fueled by the same ignorance and social media insanity that afflicts our world today.
Writer Rio Youers does a fine job of depicting a world full of men – and it isn’t pretty. The bar scenes earlier in the issue are pure chaos, with ranting men spreading conspiracy theories, all in a hot house atmosphere that clever use of colors seems to be depicting a form of hell. The theme of this section is without the ameliorating effects of women around them, men revert to their baser instincts, letting their dislike/distrust of women spread as poisonously as the Aurora disease has. Whether you think that’s reasonable or not is up to the reader, but it is an interesting take (and one that James Tiptree Jr. hit upon in her seminal short story, The Screwfly Solution) and one that lingers long in the memory.
Outside of that, the problems of condensing such a large book that this series is based on do manifest occasionally. Some of the story telling is a little choppy, especially towards the end as the action abruptly moves from main character Frank Geary’s efforts to liberate Eve Black from the local prison, to two men contemplating burning a sleeping woman. Ending this issue on a cliffhanger feels doubly odd, as the woman they are approaching is one not seen before, so the tension is rather flat. Youers otherwise does a fantastic job of depicting a world drowning in testosterone, a world consumed by rumor and the imminent threat of violence. His use early in the issue of social media postings to demonstrate how quickly the world is spiraling out of control is inspired and terrifying. There are parallels to what is happening in America at the moment that are too close to the bone, and demonstrates that some themes are universal…
WAITING FOR PRINCE CHARMING
Elsewhere, the art in Sleeping Beauties #5 is top notch. Alison Sampson’s fluid line work is a great stand in for a collapsing society bereft of women. It is also a wonderful way to help depict the lunacy that Eve Black is collapsing into; the way she twirls her hair while getting under the skin of the new prison warden is masterful. The issue has a grimy feel, as if the absence of women has taken the softer, cleaner edge off the world, leaving its disgusting and gross underbelly exposed in all its squirming ugliness. There’s a real sense in the art in this issue that everything is about ready to tip on its axis, that the world is but a hard shove away from complete collapse. It is compelling stuff, and deeply unsettling.
BOTTOM LINE: WRENCHING
Sleeping Beauties #5 is another gut punching issue that shows the rapidly growing pace of disintegration in a world largely devoid of women. All the men are suspect in one degree or another, fueled by paranoia and straight up misogyny. The lack of any understanding about what has caused the disease is less important than the fact that with the world so out of balance, dark times are ahead…
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Sleeping Beauties #5
Sleeping Beauties #5 taps into the thick, dark vein of misogyny that runs through society. The way the men react in the issue feels right, with the scales tipped towards the most ugly response. There may be a cure for Aurora, but with many men intent of burning their way to success, how many women will be left alive remains to be seen...