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Steffi is the number one mecha fighter in the Robot Battle League. But lately, she’s been feeling a bit bored. So when her father builds her a kiwi mecha, she decides to use it for crime-fighting instead of ring fighting. Her dad thinks it’s awesome; her best friend Benzene does not. But Steffi has never been one to listen to common sense. With the help of 42 (an illegal robot) and The Raccoon (a wanted burglar), Steffi takes on crime as Kiwi Blitz. But after a friend on the NYPD gets hurt, the investigation leads to a group with bigger goals than just petty crime. And they are out for Steffi’s blood.
Kiwi Blitz is a perfect mix of crime fighting and retro-futuristic fiction with a hero who won’t stop no matter the obstacles. Written by Mary Cagle of Let’s Speak English and Sleepless Domain, Steffi sets out to help the police as a superhero crime-fighter, which she spectacularly bungles in more than one way. Although the story resembles a typical plucky-girl-fighting-crime trope, many of Cagle’s characters are amputees, who through robotics live normal lives. By having such characters and dedicating a story arc to the psychology of losing a limb, she includes a margin of society that is highly visible but often ignored. Besides following the highs and lows of a girl and her sidekick/best friend, the series explores the reasons why some people turn evil: one in a character study of a criminal, the other from a person who, while having a good reason, committed a terrible crime. Her characters are also bilingual, speaking German, Spanish, and Japanese alongside English.
The art is similar to Cagle’s art in Sleepless Domain: the human characters are more rounded shapes, while the architecture and props have sharper angles. Cagle inks and colors the pages with help from penciler Grace Liu. Earlier chapters or tracks resemble a mash-up of CGI and anime, with the anime look taking over in later chapters. Also in the tradition of anime, Cagle uses primary colors, with lighter themes for good guys and darker motifs for bad guys. Her characters follow the spectrum as well; Steffi, her father, and Benzene are lighter following their European ancestry, while another character, Bahia, is dark based on African ancestry. There is also a female character, Cho, who mentions having to see her wife. The casual statement and nonchalant acceptance of the other characters establishes Kiwi Blitz as an all-accepting society that is more concerned with defeating evil than petty differences.
A blend of future robotics and current technology, the world of Kiwi Blitz is just contemporary enough to feel like today, but with plenty of innovation to indicate a future timeline. Read it at KiwiBlitz.com.