Pop Comic Review: Iris

‘Iris follows the story of a young woman who is assaulted, kills her assaulter in self-defence, and is rescued by a vigilante. Once safe, Iris is smuggled into the prosperous city of Andris, where she witnesses abuse and corruption. She is given the opportunity to join a group of women who fight against oppression. Iris must choose between joining their resistance, and returning to a life of exile.’ (from Comixology.com)

Written by: Chelsi Robichaud

Art by: Cleber Souza Lima

Published by: Chelsi Robichaud

Released: 8 March 2017 (currently only available on Comixology.com)

from Comixology.com.    Sci-fi ahoy!

 

The reason this comic caught my eye is obvious – the dramatic and crisp cover inks by Brazilian artist Lima, of a futuristic warrior woman. Since he’s the main artist as well as the cover artist, the style carries through the whole issue. Combined with an interesting story, I was happy to dive in. Vengeance! Sci-fi! Psychological struggle!

The detailed artwork is a delight, and Lima does a wonderful job of communicating the feel of the time and place for the story; a near-future Middle Eastern city, replete with technology, history, and subtle cultural feels to the setting. Illustrating futuristic environments isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when it’s close enough that you can’t just put flying cars in the background, but here it feels real. Cool sci-fi weapons and armour seal the deal. Sharp shadows are suitably dramatic, as are most of the characters.

from Comixology.com.   If I didn’t have to stick to officially released preview pages to avoid possible legal hassle, I’d have used one of the later pages showing off cool future weaponry.

 

The blurb gives you the basic of the plot pretty well, so I don’t have to worry about spoilers. The assault that acts as catalyst for the adventure isn’t played for gore or sexiness thankfully, and sets up the journey of the main character well. Rather than the mid-battle fear of someone who isn’t sure if they can kill, it follows the insecurity of someone who has already killed and has no desire to repeat the horror. The plot can be a bit rushed, suddenly introducing new characters without much time to build up an interest in them, but the pace is kept solid enough that you’re not left confused. This first installment is apparently intended to be followed by a few more if it can be managed (this one was funded by an IndiGoGo campaign), and the ending shows it – concluding its own stage of the narrative, just managing to act as an open ending for a complete tale, while leaving you wanting to know what happens next.  Canadian writer Robichaud’s experience is with poetry and short stories, which seems to suit the short-form storytelling of comic issues.

Something I found very interesting though is the influence for the story – while it’s not specified in the comic, an earlier news article with Robichaud saw her cite the Gulabi Gang of India as an inspiration for it. If you’ve never heard of them, they’re a group of women (not actually a gang, but an activist organisation or vigilante group, whichever you think sounds cooler) who fight abusive husbands, rapists, child marriages, dowry deaths, and more. They do their best to be peacekeepers first, going to the police and trying to talk things out, but if none of that works they literally attack the  abuser or criminal with the sticks they are known for carrying, dishing out harsh punishment and public shaming. You can definitely see their influence on the plot, although Iris has the bonus of laser guns. Everything’s better with laser guns, unless you’re on the receiving end.

The professional and detailed artwork, promising characters, and engaging plot means I’ll be keeping an eye out for further issues of this, although with self-publishers I don’t know when that might be. International Women’s Day was a cheekily suitable release date for this tale of avenging, self-taught fighters taking control of their destiny in order to save others doomed to violence because of their gender, and I hope more of it follows before long.

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