‘In the pulp New York of the 1950s, Moon Girl looks to a life beyond her role as champion of justice and social revolution. However, she is forced back in to action when fanatics, inspired by her adventures, begin enforcing their own brand of justice. It’s “Mad Men meets The Dark Knight” in this beautifully hand-painted novel. Moon Girl created by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff.’
Written by: Johnny Zito, Tony Trov
Art by: Rahzzah
Publisher: Red 5 Comics
Released: 10 April 2013
Red 5 Comics
A beautifully drawn pulp vigilante comic? Absolutely sounds interesting. Hero stories around vigilantes as opposed to superheroes often examine very different issues in terms of morality and responsibility (where for superpowered heroes it’s often related more to power and how it’s used), but also risks the slippery slope into generally boring – and usually violent – power fantasies of letting loose on people you don’t like; so many vigilante movies fall into that sticky trap. So let’s see where this one heads.
Once I finished reading Moon Girl, one of my first thoughts was that I should reread V for Vendetta because I was definitely reminded of it by the end. Not in any big similarity of plot, but in that same concept of a vigilante recruiting to try and start an explosive revolution and establishment of anarchy as true freedom – however in Moon Girl it is the villain trying this, by drugged force and holding the titular Moon Girl’s vigilantism, which started with a specific villain target rather than good intentions, as an example for everyone. Anarchy as a socio-political philosophy is more complicated and structured than many think, considering its reputation as just lawlessness, but I’m not going into that here. While V’s anti-hero was fighting against a totalitarian fascist government, here it’s the fever dream of Sugar Plum Fairy, the supervillain, using the hero as a figurehead for taking the law into your own hands. Combined with the ulterior motives and plans of the super villain and Moon Girl’s former teacher Satana, there’s a ripping action plot which also keeps you thinking and paying attention.
The relationships between the characters are one of my favourite things in the story, especially Moon Girl and the main villains Satana, Sugar Plum Fairy, and The Commissar (not really Tiki Bob, though he’s basically a mad scientist with a naked tiki motif, we never even find out what’s going on with that though his role is essential). We’re given regular flashbacks to unwind the tangle of how they all know each other, and each one is developed with distinctness, including very cool visual looks that change through the story but still keep their individual style. While the supporting good guys don’t get as much development, they don’t quite need it as much – simply put, a villain can just seem ridiculous without any context, while the actions of someone wanting to be a hero/helping one are more understandable – but are still interesting in their own right (I do love Star’s character arc, limited though it is).
Red 5 Comics
Of course, things like the costume design are most likely the work of artist Rahzzah, who is better known for their lovely and realistic cover art work, but here has illustrated the whole issue – a rich painting style bringing a lot of dynamic action. Of special note is the eyes; a common visual used is sharp bright colour of someone’s eyes in darkness, especially in close-up, which was very effective. Deep reds and blues dominate certain views and scenes, adding to the dramatic feeling, and to the richness of the overall visuals. Lots of dramatic lighting effects and angles help bring that sense of drama along with the darks and deep colours, combined with the interesting characters for a page turner. I wasn’t fond of a too-often occurring visual focus on breasts and ass that is so common for comics. While it can be assumed to be part of a pulp aesthetic, it’s really not an important part, and certainly not enough to justify detracting from the story. It would not have been missed – the characters and visuals were more than interesting enough.
An addition to the end of this book (along with some extra art and a couple of other bits and pieces) is the ‘The Super Manifesto: An Introduction to the Struggle’, a copy of the short in-universe tract used to help inspire anarchic revolution against the upper class. Of note is the regular use of Superhuman as a term, despite not referring to superpowers; it specifically refers to a human who decides to take action. Seeing as this is set in the late 1950’s, it includes period-appropriate short writing from a fictional John Paul Sartre (veiled reference to philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who wrote much on morality and activism), and a fictional (as far as I can tell) piece by poet Allen Ginsburg, as well as an interview with a vigilante early in the movement. I don’t like the use of closely mimicking real-world people for fictional content because that’s the kind of thing that makes it easy for people to mix up in their memory real work from a literary figure with made up; apart from that, it makes for an interesting bit of world-building, and is available for free digitally as a standalone.
Also available for free is a seven page preview of Issue #1 of Moon Girl (the book is a collection of a five issue miniseries), so you can have a closer look. I’ve used the word at least a couple of times already, so you can guess that my opinion is that it’s rich in visuals and character, and well worth the look if you don’t mind blood and violence, mad scientists experimenting on people’s brains, mind control, and kickass heroes and villains.
This issue of ‘Moon Girl‘ is from my personal collection, but the free extras are available from our usual review comic provider, Comixology.com