Xenophobia, as the prologue tells us, is the ‘irrational or unreasonable fear of that which is perceived as being ‘strange’’. What we have here is a collection of stories about people who find themselves in circumstances where they are faced with prejudice and hate simply because of who they are.
The first and probably the best deals with a woman so frightened by the messages of hate that she nearly attempts to cut her own baby out of her stomach so that the poor kid will not have to be born into such a terrible world. Sugar-coated this ain’t.
The final story takes place in an alternate world where “since the Great War, any sightings of martians are to be immediately reported”, and concerns a racist man who is told that someone forgot to flush him when he was born, who seems to view a man-eating, non-sentient martian as being a kind of second coming of Christ. He says that he will tell the place everything, if only he can look upon the creature on final time. Most of us will never know what it is like to get into the mind of a fanatic but at least we are shown a glimpse.
In-between the stories there are various prose sections written by the writers explaining matters such as the fact that most superhero stories feature “scantily clad women, hetero-normative macho identities, two dimensional plots and the under representation or misrepresentation of anyone not a cisgendered white male”, and how people who are not old white men should be given “the ability to make executive decisions in publishing firms and in media companies”. Despite the serious messages that they describe, you can’t help but feel that they would have been more effectively conveyed if they had presented these issues in their stories rather than writing them down for us.
One of the volume’s strongest qualities is that each story comes with its own vastly different style of narrative and artwork. A creepy retelling of Frankenstein with a sinister twist uses black and white visuals (save for the blood, of course) and minimal dialogue, the let the pictures tell the story, whilst a more contemporary story about Georgian immigrants uses a more realistic and hard hitting art style along with more dialogue to flesh out the characters. Diversity is to be expected in a book about tolerance.