La Muse

Originally serialized as a webcomic (and still available online), La Muse comes to print in December as a full-color graphic novel.

La Muse

Susan La Muse is a political activist and inadvertent superhero. When her abilities are caught on tape, she decides to use her celebrity and alien powers to actually change the world. Her sister Libby, a normal human, is her agent and sounding board. Susan can do anything — read minds, stop explosives, heal people, fly — so everyone’s out to get her: the government, terrorists, any zealot who disagrees with the way she’s changing the world.

Unfortunately, there are a lot more cool ideas in here than are followed through. The book reads like a late-night bull session, where after a few too many, everyone starts fixing the world. “If they’d only listen to me,” college kids think, without working through the ramifications. Everything here is SO centered on its admittedly fascinating heroine that there’s no sense of the world beyond her. Some of her radical changes deserve a book in themselves — like solving worldwide famine or making all nuclear weapons non-functional or overnight changing all cars from gas to electric — instead of being mentioned as a quick fix with no followup. Plus, many of the cliffhangers, while creative and realistic in terms of problem, are solved with a magic wave of the hand or a previously unmentioned power, removing any sense of tension.

What frequently distracts the writer, the reader, and the characters is sex. Susan is a modern woman who thinks sex solves most problems. When she needs to escape media pressure, she heads to the North Pole, finds a random young native, and engages in the “best way to relieve stress”. Her remedy when her sister disagrees with her? Libby needs to get laid. When she’s surrounded by a gang of skinheads? Have an orgy. (Another example of late-night plotting, turning the idea that bashers are probably repressing something into a literal example of tough guys screwing each other.)

There’s a lot of potential here, but it gets lost in the scattered plotting, where Susan gets whatever she wants by wishing for it. Anyone with a problem gets their brain rewired to be happy the same way plants grow in deserts at the wave of her hand. It’s the next step beyond Warren Ellis’ Authority, with all of that team’s characters rolled into one super-smart super-sexy woman who can do anything.

The art’s attractive, especially the leads, as they need to be in a story about the seductive nature of both superheroes and celebrity, but I found the ink lines to sometimes be thick enough to be distracting. It looked to me like maybe the art was blown up bigger than intended, that on-screen and smaller I wouldn’t have noticed when the expressions were off or the anatomy a little skewed.

La Muse is a good example of what can be done to breathe new life into the superhero when a writer is expressing his philosophy instead of servicing a franchise, but as a story, it needs more focus, less magic.

Here’s an interview with writer Adi Tantimedh. The book is due out in December and can be ordered through comic shops with code OCT08 3903. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)

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5 Responses to “La Muse”

  1. odessa steps magazine Says:

    I liked this when I read the serialized version.

    I’ll prob pick up the trade at some point, too.

    I really enjoyed Adi’s JLA elseworlds a few years ago.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I think I need to reread it when I’m not so tired. I suspect I’d find more in it.

  3. Rob McMonigal Says:

    Random sex? No wonder Alan Moore likes it.

  4. joe Says:

    yeah i picked it up honestly because of the Alan Moore recommendation and… yeah, disappointing. i find myself rooting for the guys trying to kill her, because they’re the only characters in the book who seem to actually face a challenge. if you like her, you get to grovel and think she’s awesome, if you don’t, you’re a bad guy trying to maintain the status quo. certainly an interesting look at the concept of the super hero, but just too simplified.

  5. garnir Says:

    I like it. Art is realy great.

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