Sunday, April 4, 2010

Street Angel

Written by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca
Art by Jim Rugg

I think I am in awe of this comic. In five individual issues, with a few short stories tossed in for good measure, Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca create a whole urban environment with its own pantheon of strange villains, aging heroes, and accepted weirdness.

Twelve year old Jesse Sanchez is a homeless middle school student, expert skateboarder, kung fu master, and champion for justice. She lives in Wilkesborough, the toughest ghetto in Angel City, where she squats in various abandoned buildings, and hangs out with some older hobos or her sometime crime-fighting partner the Bald Eagle, a multiple-amputee with only one arm.

As Street Angel, she fights evil geologists, time-lost Spanish Conquistadors, Satanic cults, evil robots, and a truckload of ninjas. The action and mood of most of the stories here are quite lighthearted and fun, with appearances from characters such as Cosmick (an Irish spaceman fluent in Australian), Inti, the Incan Sun God, Jesus, and a past his prime Aphrodisiac (a nice mix of Shaft and Luke Cage).

Then you get to the fourth story in the book, which is basically a typical (ninja-less) day in Jesse's life. She wanders the ghetto looking for food, hangs out with an old bum, and gets embarrassed that a classmate might see her dumpster-diving. There is a poignancy to this issue that I didn't expect. Rugg's art, which has leaned towards the cartoonish so far in the book suddenly becomes much more realistic, as he fleshes out his backgrounds with architectural details that make Wilkesborough look like Hamsterdam in The Wire. This is a quiet, surprising issue in the middle of a quick and funny book, and it's what is going to stick with me after reading it.

I really enjoyed this book, and wondered if it was an influence on Mark Millar when he started writing Kick-Ass, as the character of Hit-Girl is not far off from Street Angel in terms of her violence. The big difference is that while Street Angel doesn't curse much, she does drink and smoke, which I imagine would cause movie audiences an even bigger fit than anything else.

1 comment:

Kitty Christening said...

Terrific review. I'm already sold on the comic.