Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Moon Girl (Red 5)

Funny story-I'm a writer when not tending to my two blogs, and a few months ago, I started plans to write remakes for old public domain series' Captain Flash, and Tomboy. I also wanted to write one for Moon Girl, and in my research, I  ended up stumbling upon someone else who has done the exact same thing. What does that mean for Moon Girl's public domain status? Would I still be able to write my own version? No idea, but that's not why I'm here tonight. I'm here to review Tony Trov and Johnny Zito's 2013 miniseries/graphic novel Moon Girl!...

Formerly a princess in a far-off country, Klara Luna-now Claire Lune-is the Superheroine Moon Girl, defender of New York, and has finally defeated her archnemesis Satana. But before long, a terrible new threat begins to loom over the city, as an evil former special agent named Sugar Plum Fairy, along with her associates, enact their plan to brainwash the masses into violent revolution...

When I first read Moon Girl, I didn't know what to make of it! Part of it was because I didn't know what to expect, and I thought this would be a Silver Age callback. What I instead got was a complex near-treatise on anarchism, revolution, and superhero deconstruction.

When I finished this the first time, I didn't know how I felt about it. Not in the slightest! It's been a couple of months since then though, and I just reread it, and having done so with my bearings firmly latched to the ground, I can actually form a more genuine opinion of this book. Its damn good then that I didn't write and post this review when I first read Moon Girl, as was originally intended!

Let's start with the plot. This is a pretty well-written story, and it presents its themes well enough, never mishandling them, or feeling forced. There's no shortage of depressing moments, and there's so much violence and gloomy stuff going on that you could classify this as a horror as much as you could a superhero story. Thankfully Moon Girl is dark, not depressing-There is a difference. This doesn't feel grim and gritty because happiness 'isn't RADICAL!!!!' (as comic writers of the '90's felt) or because it's 'immature and childish' (what many comic writers nowadays, most notably DC, feel), but instead manages to find a good balance, and benefits from the good writing.

The best thing about this comic in my opinion is that despite how dark things get in its pages, especially the climax, the ending has such an oddly triumphant feel to it!

However, there are a couple of issues with the plot. It isn't explained enough how the bad guys are turning people into weird zombie thingies (the brainwashing bit I got, but zombie monsters?), nor what their satellite weapon is. There's also no explanation at the end of how everything was cleaned up, or how all the 'infected' in New York was returned to normal. Aside from those, the plot is handled well.

The setting is a stylised version of the 50's, although it doesn't seem radically different like some Tom Strong-ish alternate version of the era. There must be some touches that are different from the actual 1950's though, because otherwise, there is no way "I think I'll dress as Frank-N-Furter to work today" is quite up to code.

The title character, Claire Lune, is good, although I wish we knew a bit more about her. As it stands, though, her characterization is pretty good. Satana is an interesting character, with a well-defined relationship and plan with Claire. Sugar Plum Fairy is a fun over-the-top anarchy-is-great villain, while the remaining 'rogue's gallery', such as the crazy Doctor Crane are just there. While likeable, Star's character is pretty lacking, whereas Ben Pierce has a pretty interesting backstory, which I wish we could have seen more of.

*Wait, Doctor Ben Pierce? Worked in the Korean War? Real funny guys!...I'm not sure if that's sarcasm, or a genuine good reaction...

The very photo-realistic artwork isn't the kind that I particularly take to, but it's definitely good, and I'm sure takes quite a lot of effort and hard work to do, given the level of detail. The event sequencing is sometimes a bit off though, and there are times where I didn't even know what I was looking at. And then there are times where I didn't know what the FUCK I was looking at!

There are multiple splash pages, and many regular pages that contain very little happening, so this book feels a lot shorter than it actually is. If this was a regular ongoing series, this'd be a crippling problem, but as this is a graphic novel, basically, it's not a big hindrance.

Moon Girl is 143 pages, but it's technically 184, as there are a lot of concept posters, easter eggs for lack of a better word, as well a lengthy all-text Super Manifesto, which I couldn't be bothered reading (it seemed pretentious and overwritten, and I had other things to do, like read Nextwave). One baffling thing is the placement of an awesome two-page spread at the very end. You'd think it'd come at the end of the concept art, but no! Instead there's concept covers, the lengthy Super Manifesto, a classic Moon Girl concept cover, then a list of other Red 5 recommendations, then this two-page spread! Unless you want to read the book cover to cover, you likely won't notice its there! As for why it's awesome, that's...indefinable. I just feel that way...for reasons.

There are some neat touches and callbacks to the original Moon Girl that I liked...As will the only four people alive who have actually read Moon Girl. Granted, there are probably many an aspect (namely the whole style and conceit of the book) that'll piss off anyone who's ever read classic Moon Girl, but again, only four people. And besides, I'm hardly one to judge about a Moon Girl remake radically changing the story and characters, as it's literally the exact same thing I'll plan on doing if I'm ever able to write my own adaptation.

In closing, you may not know what the hell to make of this, but at least if you've read this review, you're prepared for what's inside. Will you enjoy it? Will you hate it? No idea, but if you're game to give it a try, the trade is on Comixology, and only costs seven bucks, so if you're interested, you don't have much to lose...

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