Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!
Today we look at Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s Street Angel (Rugg and Maruca’s followup project, Afrodisiac, is out soon! I’ve read it and it is quite good!)…
The great series, Street Angel, from Slave Labor Graphics (which lasted five issues), is collected into one tradepaperback (with a bunch of extras).
The book stars Jesse Sanchez (Street Angel). According to the creators, she’s a “daughter of justice who fights evil, nepotism, ninjas, and hunger.” Essentially, she is a homeless orphan living in the world’s worst ghetto who uses her skateboarding skills and martial artistry to kick bad guy behind.
#1 is an action-packed romp as Jesse must save the Mayor’s daughter from the evil Dr. Pangea and his band of ninjas. Even early on, all the trademark humor and inventive storytelling is on display.
Here is a sampling from this issue (or chapter, I guess, if you read it in a trade format)…
The bit about how Jesse beat up the ninjas in the time it took you to turn the page is absolutely brilliant.
#2 is probably the broadest humor issue, where CosMick, the first Irish astronaut crashes into the ghetto at the same time that Cortez and a group of Spanish conquistadors are transported to the future via the Incan sun god, Inti. A LOT of hilarious exchanges, in particular the Spanish conquistador who posits that maybe they AREN’T from the past, but from a distant future where the cycle of history has repeated itself…said theory is shot down quickly (and humorously).
#3 is a fight of Biblical proportions, as Jesse finds herself facing a Satanic demon that even she can’t handle – so she needs an assist from G-O-D…and his son, JC.
#4 is an amazing issue, as it plays the “homeless orphan” routine COMPLETELY straight, which is a huge slap in the face after the previous farcical issues. Very strong, personal, poignant issue (imagine being seen dumpster rummaging by someone who knows you from school? HARSH!). I am talking “Skyscrapers of the Midwest” level awkwardness (and if you know Skyscrapers at all, you know that is some heavy-duty awkwardness).
#5 is back to fun stuff, as Jesse teams up with an old 70s blaxploitation superhero, Afrodisiac (the star of Rugg and Maruca’s new graphic novel). In addition, a theme throughout the series is that Jesse is just a standard girl in many regards, except for her fighting and skateboarding skills. This issue, for instance, really highlights her naivete in a funny, but endearing manner.
The extras are as follows:
-A funny introduction by Evan Dorkin.
-All the covers and back covers…including, as the introduction to each chapter, the drawing that was used in the inside front cover of each issue (a very amusing series where Jesse and a Squid grapple in different arenas each issue…chess, stock car racing, wrestling…sadly, the Ninja tips that appeared on the BACK cover of each issue are not reprinted here).
-A quick two-page story where we see how, amongst fighting ninjas, it is the little things that matter.
-A parody of the old Hostess superhero ads. It manages to be funny AND stay true to the feel of the book.
-A new TWELVE page story where basically, Jesse re-enacts the plot of the Crossing, only in reverse. Remember how they brought the young Iron Man to the present to stop the present Iron Man from helping a super villain take over the world? Well, this is similar…just reversed. There is also a great line from Bald Eagle (the skateboard riding torso with only one arm who is Jesse’s sidekick) where he wants her to try throwing him, even though the first time they tried it, he broke an arm.
-Jim Rugg’s sketchbook
-And finally, more pin-ups than you can shake a stick at! Why you would WANT to shake a stick at a bunch of pin-ups is beyond me…but even if you WANTED to, you couldn’t! Because there are too many! Jeffrey Brown! Dean Haspiel! Jesse Farrell! Jim Mahfood! Brian Ralph! Bryan Lee O’Malley! Scott Morse! And MANY more!
Okay…Richard Hahn, Mike Hawthorne, Paul Hornshemeier, Dave Kiersh, Pat Lewis, Jasen Lex, Andy Macdonald, Ted May, Scott Mills, Lark Pien, Ed Piskor, Zack Soto, Lauren Weinstein, and Dan Zettwoch…so fourteen more.
But that’s still a lot of freaking pin-ups!!!
It is a great series.
This is mostly the review I gave when the trade was first released, with a few updates – BC.
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