The effect is that each profile is akin to a lovingly stitched story quilt, the bright panels unfolding with exquisite precision and inviting visual pacing ... Also enlivening these comics is Bagieu’s playful, clear line work, which practically dances through each profile, from expressive close-ups to vivid full-body physicality ... But really, the highest praise I can give Brazen is that it belongs in most every girl’s — and boy’s — hands by middle school. The book reminds you that too many great women’s stories have been lost to history — and that for the greater good, that must never happen again.
These drawings can act. They are alive with gestural attitude. They move, dance, struggle, fight back, fall in love, resist and wonder at the world. Some ham it up. Some suffer terrible abuse. To her credit, Bagieu doesn’t back away from drawing the marks of violence on their faces and their bodies, which may come as a surprise to those who are expecting a rah-rah young adult girl-power sort of read ... All of her stories follow a similar pattern ... that can feel a bit formulaic, but this seems to have more to do with the fact that the English translation is typeset rather than in Bagieu’s handwriting ... It’s painful to see this crucial part of her work replaced with type. It changes everything about how the stories are received ... Bagieu’s pen transforms these true stories into something that has the tone of a personalized fairy tale. And in the end, this turns out to be just perfect.
Very few cartoonists are able to convey so wide a range of emotions while also keeping their drawings so fluid, so wild – and she has charm and wit to spare. But with Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World, she is truly in her element. This book already feels like a classic, one to be loved by every girl who reads it from now until the end of time.
Bagieu's brand of feminism comes with frills and curlicues galore. Her voice is pert and saucy, and her cartoons are darling ... Brazen is at its best when Bagieu's ladies are shielded from physical violence and meet happy ends ... On the other hand, when Bagieu is forced to depict real hardship — the abuse and violence that marked the life of Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee, or the torture endured by the Dominican Republic's Mirabal sisters — she's daunted. She inevitably restricts such darkness to a couple of cramped panels, and when she must draw suffering faces, they're unconvincing ... taken together, the two styles stand in a funny kind of balance.
With all of these time periods and geographic locations fostering different attitudes toward women, Bagieu provides a sprawling look at how they have long had to overcome adversity through their own ingenuity ... Each comic ends with a two-page illustration that picks a specific emblematic moment from the subject’s life. Bagieu experiments with composition and rendering to give these images visceral and immediate emotional impact ... After the waves of information in the preceding strips, these clever, bold illustrations give the reader moments to meditate on what they’ve just read, enriching each individual history.
Bagieu’s writing is clever and concise, and panels brim with sly subtleties; Bagieu delivers laugh-out-loud one-liners in bitsy speech bubbles, and summons tragedy with no words at all, and her fine-lined figures are by turns playfully expressive, fierce, and reverent ... This dynamic paean to women’s flair for fearless resistance will have readers happily sifting through history—and tackling the future with renewed verve.
Brazen is a surprising, clever, and genuinely moving book that I couldn’t recommend with more enthusiasm ... The stories of many of the woman in this anthology aren’t widely known (as a result of the racism and sexism that have informed our historical narratives), which makes them even more unexpected and enjoyable ... this is a wonderful, important collection and is a delight in every way.
...the kind of book that will give liberals warm fuzzies about giving it to their daughters, and something pricklier and trickier than that ... Bagieu has always had a talent for presenting complexity in a seemingly simple package ... Bagieu’s line is finer and more scribbly here than in some of her other work ... What it allows her to do is sneak in that heavier subject matter because the look of the pages is light and joyful ... It’s also intersectional without being preachy.
... the book is most certainly aimed towards an audience of young women, destined to be given for birthdays and the like for years to come. But the content is a bit more radical than one might expect ... The book is well-curated ... it’s nice to see the book refuses to pull back its teeth when describing some of the less pleasant aspects of these stories ... it is possible that many readers will come away from Brazen just as impressed with Bagieu’s casually brilliant technique as any of the other wonderful women on display here.
Bagieu’s writing is sly and understated, and her panels combine impish comedy with unexpected moments of sensuousness ... Any one of these stories would make a rousing picture book biography; 29 of them in one volume produces a work whose energy and wit will spur readers to get going and change the world.
Bagieu delivers a pièce de résistance that succinctly summarizes the obstacles and victories of these daring women. Insightful and clever, at times infuriating and disheartening, this serves as a reminder that the hardships women face today have been shared—and overcome—by many others.