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Crossroads Comics #186 – Muted

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for Crossroads Comics!

This week we’re taking a look at the Webtoon, Muted, by Miranda Mundt (they/them). Long time readers might recall I actually reviewed this comic previously, during Pride Month 2020. 80 issues later, the Webtoon has since reached its thrilling conclusion, so I thought there would be no better choice for a review during Lesbian Visibility Week this year.

So what is Muted? As I said last time I reviewed this story, Muted is a comic that deals with the supernatural. In the heart of the bayou, a young witch from an influential family in New Orleans reaches her 21st birthday. On this day, she along with her sister, are expected to summon a winged demon and make a wish, a wish for a husband that will bring more influence, power, and riches for her family. But, the ritual goes awry, dark secrets about the witch’s past start to come to life. She begins to learn more about herself and her past, but in doing so, she threatens the very fabric of social hierarchy for witch society in the Bayou.

From there though, the story’s main focus becomes not on the magic itself, though that is a large factor, but on recovering from abuse and growing as a person. Muted covers themes of gaslighting, guilt, grief, and much more. While the magic is certainly a large draw for the story, unlike when I was first getting into the comic a few years ago, by the end of the story, I found these themes and their related character interactions far more compelling. Miranda Mundt does an excellent job in writing the characters in these stories. No characters are one or even two dimensional. Like real people, they have thoughts and motivations that ultimately have consequences which we get to see in the story. An example of this I gave during my last review is that early on in the comic, when the main character, Camille (she/her), would bad mouth someone, she wouldn’t simply get away with these actions, but rather would actually have to deal with the consequences. All things considered this is a rather minor example, but it perfectly showcases what I mean. Both the protagonists and antagonists suffer from their poor decisions. People are hurt both physically and emotionally because of choices that are made throughout the story and I’d argue that one of the major themes of Muted is dealing with the consequences of someone’s decision, even if it’s not your own. But in order to properly explain what I mean, let’s dive deeper in the spoiler section.

Spoilers Ahead

As previously stated, Muted centers around a young witch named Camille who, as part of her family tradition, is expected to summon a winged demon on her 21st birthday and make a wish that ultimately benefits their family. This family, known as the Severins, have done this for countless generations, and the story makes it clear, especially in the later chapters, that such decisions ultimately caused them to be alienated from the other witch families of New Orleans. However, Camille ends up acting as a sort of bridge between the Severin family and the other witch families after her summoning goes awry. Instead of summoning a winged demon like she is supposed to, Camille ends up summoning a plant demon named Dendro (she/they). Together, along with many of the other friends Camille makes throughout the course of the story, they end up discovering that this is the result of Camille’s parentage.

See, while the Severin family specializes in demon magic, the other witch families in New Orleans specialize in other types of magic. One such family is the LeRoux family, who specialize in plant magic. It is revealed through the course of the story that Camille is the daughter of both families and Dendro, as well as Camille’s familiar, Tobin, are a result of a mix of the two families’ magics. Members of the Severin family are known to summon ravens as their familiars, while the LeRoux family summons forest creatures, thus resulting in Tobin being a woodpecker, and a similar train of thought can be made for now Dendro was summoned.

Upon discovering her plant magic and by extent this new side of herself, Camille is thrust into a much larger world than she’s ever experienced and is able to grow into a person she was previously never allowed to be under the care of her aunt, Athalie Severin. Athalie serves as the comic’s main antagonist, being both the cause of Camille’s parents and sister’s deaths as well as a perpetual source of abuse and torture for those around her. We see this most prominently in the dichotomy between Camille and her cousin, Avaline. Avaline is Athalie’s daughter, and is notably one of the only members of the Severin family without a twin. As a result, after the death of Camille’s sister, Avaline and Camille become quite close, but following both of their failed demon summonings, the two are forcibly separated by Athalie. From there we really get to see the direct effects of Athalie’s gaslighting and perpetual abuse on Avaline as compared to Camille. While the two are different and thus respond differently to Athalie, seeing how Camille is able to thrive once she’s out from under Athalie’s thumb as compared to Avaline, who continues to suffer under Athalie’s oppression, is a very well written narrative device that is just one of the ways Muted puts on display how awful of a person Athalie is.

Athalie is a masterfully written villain, who continually acts in a way that makes readers question if there’s really any way she could get worse, and then somehow she manages to blow all expects of a bedrock to smithereens. I remember when I was reading the story initially, I was fairly certain it had been Athalie who had orchestrated the murder of Camille’s parents and sister (with Camille actually being an intended target as well), but some of the later reveals in the story really shook me. From her blatant use of her daughter as a weapon against Camille and the others, to the major reveal that the reason Avaline doesn’t have a twin is because Athalie sacrificed the twin in the womb as part of a demonic pact to kill Camille’s family, it seems like Athalie’s lust for power knows no bounds. Even though, Athalie does get her comeuppance, in something of a rather gruesome ending where she is eventually devoured by the familiar of another family’s matriarch. It’s an end that, while deserved, has a lot of layers to it. One thing that really stuck with me is Athalie’s final words, which may seem very cruel towards Avaline by depriving her of the comfort she desired. And while there’s no doubt that that is exactly what they are, Avaline points out in the next episode that they ultimately made letting Athalie go much easier, causing me to wonder if it was Athalie showing love for her daughter in some sick twisted way. It’s hard to say, as abusers are rarely straight forward in their methods or meanings, so while it’s nice to be optimistic and believe that Athalie did have such good intentions and actually did love her daughter, there’s no way to know for sure that’s what she was actually thinking, especially when she previously had shown such blatant disregard for her own family.

This is also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how well written and thought out Muted is. The themes of found family, abuse, growth, and dealing with the consequences of people’s actions are tackled in a very relatable manner even in a supernatural setting. It definitely put a few things into perspective for me in my own life, and could potentially serve as a great lesson to others on how to identify toxic relationships.
Spoilers End

Muted is one of those stories that there’s no good way to cover it all in a review like this without writing like a 30 paragraph essay. I am grossly summarizing the story here while also trying to be somewhat vague as I think this is a story best experienced rather than just gleaned from a short summary of events. It’s a comic that, for its duration, I eagerly awaited its weekly updates, and was very sad to see come to an end. But with that said, the ending felt well deserved, and the Webtoon itself feels neither too long nor too short. It’s a story that shows both the growth of its main characters, and also those in the background, with its final two episodes really bringing that home by showing how everyone is doing a year after the climax of the story.

This also doesn’t even go over the massive amount of LGBTQ+ representation in the story. Several characters throughout the story are shown to be on varying parts of the sexuality and gender spectrum, with the comic itself providing some amazing polyamorous and aroace representation that you don’t see much of in Webtoons Originals. As someone who grew into their own sexuality throughout the course of this story, it was really nice to have positive lesbian and asexuality representation, as I believe it helped me figure out things about myself that I might not have otherwise viewed positively.

All in all, Muted is an amazing story that I highly recommend reading. It’s 125 episodes long and well worth the read. And if you find yourself desperate for more, Miranda Mundt is currently co-writing another story with their spouse, Chase Keels (any pronouns), called Lovebot. While this Webtoon is intended for more mature audiences, it’s a great read for all those Sci-Fi and MLM lovers out there that I’ll definitely have to tackle in a future review.

And without further ado, let’s check out the rest of this week’s lineup!

Crossroads Comics
Ask a Staravia They seem a bit freaked out.
PMD: Explorers of Life Hooray! Ice! Definitely not worse than snow.
PMD: Rangers of Sky Here we go agaaaaiiiinnnn!!
PMD: Wildfire Close enough?
Rejuvenation: The Interceptor Journey Just a friendly battle between rivals!
Shinka: The Last Eevee Look at those cinematic parallels.
The Shaymin Café Friends make holidays more fun!

ComicFury Comics
Beastars: Reflection A polished sword is a pretty one.
Forever Song Poor guy just can’t catch a break.
Genesis: A Gijinka Story Awwwkward.
In Blood We Rise Torture.
Pure Light Are we sure there’s no one else?
PMD: Boundless Adventures At least they knew, I guess?
PMD: Golden Stones A shadow Pokémon, huh?
Step by Step by Step I’m sure this’ll end fine.
What the Water Gave Me That can’t be good.

Deviantart Comics
Broken Sword Oh phew!
Champion’s Mercy I love these characters’ interactions.
Dear Sergio Oh Leon…
Pokémon Across Dimensions Something tells me it’s going to be more than “a little while”.
PMD: Explorers of Shadows Honestly at this point, who knows.
PMD: Team Awai It’s a talent, really.
PMD: Team Rowanberry That’s Huge Power for you.
Sunlocke Hau needs to learn some team diversity.
Wanted! – Pokémon Colosseum Nuzlocke It’s Rui!

Off-site Comics
Ask Frozen Meadow Oh hello new friend!
Ask Sol Searchers Ooh new face!
Ask the Traveller Wonder what they have planned.
Daily Spiritomb Wagon party!
Flake-n-Rudy I don’t think Flake’s doing alright.
House of Hemingway April seems like a very strict trainer.
Leilani-and-Kass Huh… that’s… odd?
Llndea’s Journey Rough childhood huh? Poor Llndea…
Team Next-Gen Claudia seems to have a very threatening aura.

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