With super-strength and invulnerability, Alison Green used to be one of the most powerful superheroes around. Fighting crime with other teenagers under the alter ego Mega Girl was fun – until an encounter with Menace, her mind-reading arch enemy, showed her evidence of a sinister conspiracy, and suddenly battling giant robots didn’t seem so important. Now Alison is going to college and trying to find ways to help the world while still getting to class on time. It’s impossible to escape the past, however, and everyone has their own idea of what it means to be a hero…
**A digital reading copy was provided to me via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
I wanted to love this book… I really, really did. It has an interesting premise, the title is great, and I love that the creators followed through on what they promised. But I only liked it, I couldn’t make myself love it.
The world that was created in this series reminded me a little bit of The Incredibles (in a good way). Like The Incredibles, the world knows about the existence of (numerous) superheroes and supervillains. The governments are actively involved in the lives of their superheroes, and there is a lot of collateral damage during the battles between the heroes and the villains. The main difference is that in this story, the superheroes are still very much an active part of maintaining order in this world.
So to briefly sum this up, this is a story about Allison who used to be “Mega-Girl”. She threw down her cape, so to speak, and decided to quit being a super-hero and go to college instead. However, she is still very much connected to that world and so it is difficult for her to disassociate with that completely. It was interesting to see Allison struggle with the choices that she made, and there were times that Allison downright surprised me (which was amazing). I also very much enjoyed being privy to Allison’s childhood and seeing the path that she was put on, that led her into becoming Mega-Girl.
I am typically not a fan of superhero stories, and so I haven’t read much in the genre. But it seemed to me, that the depiction of Allison (both the story AND the illustrations) was influenced by the way women are typically portrayed in most superhero stories/graphic novels. And for that, I applaud them. Allison is a normal-looking girl. She is properly proportioned, she wears normal and comfortable-looking clothes (even as Mega-Girl). And most important of all (at least to me), her story isn’t tied into the presence of a significant other. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind boyfriends/girlfriends being in the picture, I just appreciated that she has priorities that don’t revolve around finding or maintaining a romantic relationship.
Oh and guess what? Allison also has parents!! I hear that’s not a normal thing to happen in the context of a superhero story. And I loved what the authors had to say about that.
I think it’s fascinating that so many fictional heroes are orphans. I know it has deep, profound mythological roots that are significant on a Jungian level, but sometimes the choice to make a character an orphan is because the writer is uninterested in dealing with the main characters’ family or finds family life an impediment to their main character’s identity. Not exactly intellectual laziness, but also not a purely aesthetic choice.
However, there were a couple of things that I found a little frustrating. Like The Wicked + The Divine, I found it difficult to keep track of all the superheroes. There was quite a bit of name-dropping, particularly in the first couple of chapters, and eventually I just gave up trying to remember them all and just went on with the story. The second thing that I found frustrating was the font on some of the pages. I couldn’t tell if it was because of the digital PDF file that I received, or whether it had to do with the actual print, but it was difficult to read.
Also, I was utterly unaware of the fact that this started off as a web-comic, which was then funded by Kickstarter to become a book. So it completely threw me off when I realized that the comics itself are not in color (especially because I assumed it would be considering the cover). It shouldn’t be a big deal, but unfortunately it did interfere with my personal enjoyment of the story even though the illustrations themselves were quite good.
I would definitely recommend looking at their web-comics linked here. They are updated every Tuesday and Friday.