Sunday, January 25, 2015

Strong Female Protagonist, Book One

Strong Female Protagonist began as a webomic in 2012, and this volume collects the first four chapters of the story. I actually began reading this series online, and I bought the first two chapters in hard copy, so this tale was not new to me. But I enjoyed it all the same, because I feel that this take on superheroes is fresh, smart, and very compelling.

The plot follows Allison Green, a powerfully strong and invulnerable young woman who just wants to go to college and live a normal life. Unfortunately for her, she used to be the superheroine Mega Girl, and her past keeps cropping up and complicating her life.
What makes this comic smart for me is that Allison is a surprisingly complex and interesting character surrounding by what could be stock characters but turn out to be quite intriguing in their own rights. Additionally, there are fascinating twists on the dynamics of superheroes and supervillains and a deep, dark conspiracy to contend with. There is so much greatness to digest in this comic.

The artwork and writing fit together seemlessly. And I love how the illustrations both cling to and expand on superhero conventions but also retain the flavor of the online work. I especially appreciate the use of alt-text in the print version, where it is placed at the bottom of each page. That text comments on the story, is metacommentary on the craft, or tells jokes, and I appreciate that extra touch.

This comic is the product of writer Brennan Lee Mulligan and artist Molly Ostertag. Mulligan is an improviser, actor, and author who performs with the Upright Citizens Brigade. Ostertag also works on a number of other comics, including Journey to the Valley of Whispers and Bacchanalia. Both creators speak about their collaboration in this interview.

The webcomic collected here is well received and very positively reviewed. It was also the focus of a successful Kickstarter campaign, which funded this collection. Marykate Jasper called it "a fascinating superhero book." Nightwing17 wrote, "It’s wonderful to see a series exploring areas of the superhero genre that are usually resigned to subtext and throw-away sideplots." Chris Sims summed up, "It’s well worth reading, and if you’re not already, you’re missing out."

This collection of Strong Female Protagonist was published by Top Shelf, who has a preview and much more here. The story continues online, updated on Tuesdays and Fridays.

I read this book on my Kindle Fire using the Comixology app, and I have to say I really liked the experience.

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