Strong Female Protagonist
One of the best aspects of NetGalley is that I get to try things that are a bit outside of my wheelhouse or that I wasn’t previously aware of until I skimmed the latest offerings. It led me to discover the sublime Sex Criminals, Volume I last year and now I’ve come across another gem with Strong Female Protagonist.
This web-comic takes ingredients from some of the main-stream comic publishing events (Marvel’s Civil War springs to mind) and the sensibility of Buffy and other Whedon-verse shows to offer us the story of Alex Green. Once known as Mega Girl and part of an elite fighting force of superheroes, Alex publicly unmasked and is trying to live a normal life. As a freshman in college, Alex struggles with the remnants of her fame, including a professor who holds an obvious grudge against her (and when it’s revealed why, it’s one of the most heartbreaking and moving moments in a story filled with them) and the fact that she can’t stop at fast food place to enjoy a burger and fries without being recognized.
As a deconstruction of super hero stories, Strong Female Protagonist works extremely well. But more than that, the story is a compelling, fascinating character examination of not only Alex but also others affected by the realization that they have super powers. It’s a world where these powers have consequences, both negative and positive. One haunting aspect is a former super villain who has come up with an interesting way to use her powers to atone for her sins. There’s also the fourth chapter of the book that fills in details of Alex growing up and her relationship with his family and the family’s favorite pet. The fourth chapter alone is worth the price of admission for this book, but I’d say it’s far more affecting having spent the first three chapters getting to know Alex and her world.
As if all that weren’t enough, each page of the comic includes an aside from the authors, highlighting certain aspects of the story, deconstructing what is happening on the panels above or offering asides that will tickle your funny bone or offer character insight. (One of them pokes fun at the reader’s attempt to read more significance than is necessarily there by pointing out how the author drew the inspiration. Again, more than worth the price of admission).
After reading four chapters of Strong Female Protagonist, I’m intrigued enough to want to read more about Alex and her world. I’ll happily tune in to new installments as their released on-line at Strong Female Protagonist and hope that this won’t be the only collection of this comic that we get to see on our shelves.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve been enjoying the latest television incarnation of The Flash so much that I finally decided it was time to give the comic book version of the speedster a try. Thanks to DC’s New 52 experiment, it’s easy to find a starting point.
And so it is that I picked up The Flash, Volume I: Move Forward, a collection of the first eight issues from the rebooted series. Central City is the midst of a mob war and the Flash is trying to keep things in check. But as he uses his powers to put on one fire, he may be created a larger one. Seems that the faster the Flash can go, the more damage he’s doing to the space-time continuum and the fabric of reality.
There’s a lot happening in these issues, much of it quite well done. The Flash has a battle with Captain Cold that works well — not only in the way it’s realized within the panels but also Cold’s reason for wanting to take out our hero. Later issues that deal with the Flash’s attempts to find a way to make things rights are equally interesting and I get the feeling that the creative team is setting up a lot of dominoes to fall in later issues.
There’s enough done right here that I’m willing to pick up the second collection of the New 52 Flash and see where things continue to go.