Reviews

Comic Review – Fight Like a Girl #1

  • Script – David Pinckney
  • Art – Soo Lee
  • Publisher – Action Lab Entertainment

With a baseball bat resting on her shoulders, a bespectacled young woman stares smugly behind a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Above her, the words “Fight Like a Girl” hang from the sky. It’s quite a statement.

Action Lab Entertainment is a quirky American indie publisher that has been quietly gathering steam ever since their launch in 2010. An early and eager adopter of digital distribution, Action Lab have made a name for themselves with their colourful and unique output of creator-owned comic books. With their output divided distinctly between their primarily all-ages titles and their more mature books (which they publish under their DANGER ZONE imprint), Fight Like A Girl #1 is an Action Lab book that is quite literally one swear-word from being an all-ages title. Through the magic door...

Amarosa needs a miracle. Her brother is dying, and there is no cure. Faced with no other option, she ventures to the pantheon of the Gods for help. After some deliberation, they agree to let Amarosa access to their Wishing Well, but only if she faces nine challenges and survives. It’s a solid premise that provides a fairly strong basis for well, anything. In this first issue, Amarosa barters with the Gods and faces the wrath of a polysymbiote; a creature that can take the form of anything it desires. Unluckily for Amarosa, this particular polymorph has decided to become a ruddy great big dinosaur.

Fight Like a Girl #1 wears its influences proudly on its sleeve. The Announcer’s character will be familiar to anyone who’s ever played a Legend of Zelda game post-Ocarina of Time, whilst the manga-influenced artwork and the casual, unexplained elements of the fantastic bring to mind Bryan O ’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim.

The issue immediately sticks you in the middle of Amarosa’s conversation with the Gods. David Pinckney’s dialogue here is unrestrained and a little overwrought; it’s thrown across the page in massive chunks and overwhelms the colorful artwork. And whilst there is so much dialogue, there are also not enough answers. Although we are given a massive taste of the relationship dynamic between the various Gods, their agendas and personality quirks, we do not actually see how Amarosa came to meet them. Is Fight Like a Girl set in a world where the Gods existence on earth is just a standard thing, or did Amarosa come into some mystical knowledge to venture to their realm? Your guess is as good as mine, and I can’t help but feel like this first issue could have done a little better in establishing the world in which its characters live. My fingers remain crossed that a future issue sheds a little light on this. After a shaky and text-heavy start, Pinckney paces the issue decently. The concept is solid and the characters are sufficiently fleshed out, even if the dialogue is sometimes a little generic.
A honking great big dinosaur.
Soo Lee’s artwork here is interesting. Manga-inspired, it absolutely shines in larger panels and action sequences. Sadly, during conversations it seems as if Lee’s concentration began to wane; detailed backgrounds give way to filled blocks of flat color as the Gods debate and The Announcer delivers rule-establishing exposition. Lee’s scratchy line work is thickly inked, providing strong and impactful detailing. It is a purposefully heavy hand which, when combined with the unorthodox color palette, makes for a striking comic book. Lee’s coloring is both expressive and unique. Neon blues, reds and greens are used to great effect, drenching the book in the sun-soaked xxxxxtrremity of an early 90’s candy advert. Said advert probably also features a T-Rex wearing a backwards baseball cap, riding a skateboard whilst clutching a Sega Genesis controller. The cover’s subtle use of Ben-Day dots for clouds bring to mind pop-art and romance titles from the fifties, adding a little something extra to what is probably my favorite cover of the year.

Fight Like a Girl #1 is a distinctive and eye-catching book. There are a few niggling problems here that could have been solved with a ruthless and indiscriminate edit, the lack of which sadly leaves the issue’s 26 meaty pages feeling unpolished. Still, the unique aesthetic on show here, along with the unpredictable and flexible nature of the premise, ensures that my eyes will be firmly fixed on issue 2.

 

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About the author

Oscar Maltby

A full-time father and a long-time writer for the British Small Press comics scene, Oscar Maltby is turning his hand to comic book journalism. His scripts have been featured in numerous UK comic books, including the Eagle Award-nominated anthology Futurequake.

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