Advance Slush: Rogue Angel, Hazed, Noble Causes

Rogue Angel #1

Written by Barbara Randall Kesel, art by Renae De Liz, inks/colors by Ray Dillon, IDW Publishing, $3.99, February, Diamond code DEC07 3714

Rogue Angel #1 cover

Annja Creed is Tomb Raider with a more realistic wardrobe, Buffy as an archaeologist, star of a novel series by the folks who put out the Executioner books. In this story, she’s come to Virginia City to help out a grad school friend with a Mark Twain fixation. The friend is researching the roles of people of color in the Old West when she comes across evidence involving new sources for Twain’s works.

The art has a European feel, with faces resembling caricatures at times to convey more emotion. It’s strong, maybe a little over-rendered occasionally, but readable. I didn’t need the white-light glow spots on the heroine’s forehead and breasts on the splash page, though that’s an aberration. Although she’s stacked, she’s not excessively exaggerated, thankfully. That’s true even when she should be. She can conjure a mystical sword, and even with magical help, her arms seem a little too twig-like for swinging that weapon of choice.

This is the kind of comic where the two leads tell each other facts and then say “I already know that” as a way of both cluing in the reader and making the characters look more competent. It’s hard to tell where the story’s going, but this issue sets up a lot of adventure and it’s very modern.

As with most IDW projects, I recommend waiting for the collection, which will likely include the entire miniseries as well as the variant covers. Anyone looking for female-friendly adventure comics should take a look at this — with a female writer, artist, and believable star, it avoids many of the pitfalls of its competition and should be quite satisfying.

Hazed

Hazed #7 cover

Written by Mark Sable, art by Robbi Rodriguez, Image Comics, $14.99, February, Diamond code DEC07 2052 (No link because Image’s site rarely has useful material on their comics, which is a shame)

A supposed dark comedy set in a sorority that the publisher compares to Heathers and Mean Girls, but it’s not nearly as pointed, clever, or funny as those (although the writer has stolen some plot points directly from the latter). Simply portraying date rape or hazing doesn’t count as parody, comedy, or a statement about the issue. The cartoony, big-round-head style keeps the tone light, which helps when you’re drawing your characters vomiting while talking about binge drunkenness.

This story doesn’t demonstrate any understanding of what really motivates girls who join a sorority or struggle with body image issues or want to belong while hating what keeps the popular crowd popular. By the end, it’s incoherent and repulsive.

Noble Causes #32

Written by Jay Faerber, art by Yildiray Cinar, Image Comics, $2.99, March 26, Diamond code JAN08 2050

Noble Causes #32 cover

The long-running (for an indy superhero book) relaunches with this issue, set five years after the events of the previous #31. With the characters’ lives jumping forward, both old and new readers get a fresh start.

The first half of the book is a big fight scene in which the family’s being covered by the media while rounding up some bad guys, which allows for convenient “TV screen” captions that give character names and powers. I wasn’t particularly involved, since I have little connection to these characters.

I remember reading the book when it launched, when it was about normal girl Liz in love with family golden boy Race. Now it seems that the viewpoint character will be normal girl Amy, who’s involved with family wild child Surge. Faerber even has a demented old man confuse Amy for Liz, allowing him to acknowledge the plot repetition and promise something different, which he lives up to. With the last page cliffhanger, it becomes clear that she’s not just Liz mark 2.

I liked the book originally for soap opera mixed with superheroics, but now it seems to be superheroes 90% of the time. That’s probably better for the direct market, but if I wanted convoluted action stories with characters that feel familiar but I no longer know, I’ll stick with DC — they’re doing the same thing these days.

This is a great option for someone who wants more superhero stories and isn’t satisfied with what they’re getting from DC or Marvel. I’m just not sure how much of an audience that is.


8 Responses to “Advance Slush: Rogue Angel, Hazed, Noble Causes”

  1. MLO Says:

    Rogue Angel may just work better as a comic than it does as a novel. The novels don’t quite work.

    Pax,

    MLO

  2. Johanna Says:

    I think the mystical sword is a cool effect that would likely work better in a visual medium… but what about the novels didn’t work for you?

  3. Johanna Says:

    Your publisher sent me (and others) a PDF. It was marked final, but if there’s a question of which version it was, I dunno, ask them.

    I apologize by going too far in the language I used to point out your story and Mean Girls use very similar plot points. As a reader, the movie came before your comic to me. I believe you when you say you came up with it independently, but maybe your publisher needs to lighten up on those comparisons to avoid others being misled. Most readers aren’t going to know about your play, and they’re going to assume that your comic was written (or at least revised and edited) more recently, so if too many similarities are there, they’re on purpose.

    Thanks for stopping by and setting the record straight.

  4. Mark Sable Says:

    I think with comics, particularly superhero comics, there’s a tradition of… let’s euphemistically say “building upon others work”, so I can see how the word “stole” could easily be thrown out without intending to imply

    I wish my response was as restrained as your apology (which I accept) was classy.

    When I wrote Hazed I expected a polarized reaction and I perfectly happy to accept the consequences, even if it means turning off reviewers I respect. In its previous incarnations (the play, the screenplay and various versions of the OGN) I’ve had some readers express opinions similar to yours. At the same time I’ve had a lot of audience members/readers (particularly women who’d been in sororities) say that the way I captured what they’d gone through was uncanny.

    If it’s not too personal a question, were you in a sorority? I ask not because it makes your review any more or less valid, but it’s just interesting to see demograhpically where both the positive and negative reactions come from.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Hee hee, I like your euphemism. No, I didn’t see the need for a sorority (especially since my college only had locals due to past problems, and they killed one of their pledges during my time there). I did belong to a (co-ed) fraternity, but that’s not at all the same thing.

  6. MLO Says:

    It just seems I like some books better as visual media than others. A lot of books that make great movies or graphic novels hold no appeal for me as a novel. It really is just a personal preference.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Makes sense. Thanks for following up. I feel the same way about the Fountainhead, as an example I hesitate to open again but the best one I could think of — no novel appeal, but I enjoyed the film.




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