Taking a look back can be as much fun as enjoying the present, if not even more so when we are talking about a character whose book is, at the moment at least, a convoluted mix of a comic book and TV tie-in cocktail. Bearing in mind that the Superman: American Alien mini series was a surprise hit for DC and looking at the fact that DC are in something of an origins mode (yes I am looking at the Wonder Woman book and The True Amazon graphic – I have no idea why we need two WW origins stories out at the same time), its no real surprise that DC turn their focus on the Maid of Might.
This book kicks of a four issue run, fleshing out some of the trials and tribulations that Kara Danvers has to go through as she hits 16. As the book starts we get to see Kara enjoy her faux-birthday as well as see some of her powers in play. We also get to the meet her friends and family and the quaint little town of Midvale. It’s all pretty standard stuff for the most part, although the quality of the work clearly shines through.
Writer Mariko Tamaki takes a high school environment, mixes in some rural landscapes and what would used to be seen as an eclectic group of friends and injects an insecure Kara, unsure of her past, not sure of her future and not so comfortable with her present giving the book an almost Smallville vibe Regarding the friends, each one could be seen as a cliché or stereotype. Yet in Tamaki’s excellent hands, each feels fully realized. Tamaki uses Kara’s monologue which serves to give opinion and beliefs which we buy into. Listening to the girls chat is like listening to my step-daughter and her friends as they sit having a coffee. This being comics, there are a couple of coincidences that happen, but hey, you need a threat for the hero, or in this case heroine, to become super.
Joelle Jones provides the art for the interior and cover art. Truth be told, it’s Jones’ work that made me look forward to the book so much. Joelle Jones is no stranger to drawing strong female characters. Her series, Lady Killer from Dark Horse Comics, is fantastically dark and funny. Of course over on the other side of the aisle, Jones provided covers for the recently criminally cancelled Mockingbird book. Jones has an angular almost scratchy style at times. However here, the pencils seem smoother as if trying to meet a DC standard. If that’s the case it’s a brave decision that for the most part works extremely well. If there was any inconsistency in the art, it would be around the details and shapes of faces. Otherwise, Jones quality of work is what you expect. Fans will not be disappointed. With this being the first book, a lot of the book is setup, meaning there is a lot of dialogue. Jones handles its incursion into her panels with aplomb allowing the story to breath through the panel. The panels themselves convey a warmth of character whether Kara is with friends or family as well as driving the reader through the pages. Jones is ably assisted by Sandu Florea on inks and the incomparable Kelly Fitzpatrick on colors the latter producing another excellent scheme that helps to create an environment that has resonance.
DC have really pulled out all the stops with this book by looking to get the best “indie” creators to write a story set within a specific time frame. This means that they have asked creators to work to their strengths, especially with Mariko Tamaki. The end result is a 48 page Book One, that whilst doesn’t offer anything new, is a fun and engaging read and is head and shoulders above its ongoing series sister. I will definitely be picking up Book Two, despite the high $5.99 price tag.
Writing – 5 Stars
Art 4.5 Stars
Color – 5 Stars
STORY BY Mariko Tamaki
ART BY Joelle Jones