Anyone But Virginia

Strong female protagonists in the tights and flights set are hard to find amongst the books on the shelf these days at the local comic shop. While there are standouts in my opinion for the big two at the moment such as DC comics new 52 Supergirl and Marvel’s Captain Marvel , those characters (properties) are still under the control of the editorial grip of the powers that be in the way they should look ,act and behave according to continuity and universal narrative. Now I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with that, as I am a fan of superhero stories, but they do often leave you feeling a void of possibility and….well wanting. So when the world of independent comics take detours into the tights and flights playground, I always perk up a bit and hope that something new will be contributed to the universe of the impossible. Does Eiserike and Crockett’s Anyone but Virginia accomplish this? Yes and no. 

The centerpiece of the story is a self acknowledged debt of gratitude by the creators to movies like Grosse Point Blank, where John Cusak pokes fun at his own John Hughes roots by playing a hitman who attends his ten year reunion. In the course of the movie, life affirmation occurs, comedy and violence mingle well as we move towards confrontation between Martin Blank, his nemesis, and the government agency trying to get them all. This is also the plot for Anyone but Virginia with slight variations made, and this is where I blame inexperience of a writer still trying to find a voice…its ok to like the Kevin Smith style of films and dialogue but it doesn’t mean you have to make homage to his movie style, or any movie style, in the comics medium. Using pop culture as window dressing or easter eggs in order to pay homage is one thing, the Image comics series Hell Yeah has done that effectively, but to be a bit egregious about it as Eiserike is, that just shows a writer still struggling to find some footing.  However, with these narrative issues clogging the flow a bit, there is some very interesting ideas being bandied about in the fringes of the story that Eiserike may want to come back to investigate down the road :

1)   The danger of government created superheroes to control a post -11 paranoia

2)   A further discussion about why superheores in comics don’t just solve real world problems when introduced into the narrative, even in a slightly altered reality from our own.

Those two problems not being investigated further, along with the authors own acknowledgement of having some serious hanging plot threads, doesn’t diminish the charm of the narrative and the authors ear for some natural dialogue as the real focus of Eiserike is to tell his own John Hughes movie in the superhero form. Also it doesn’t hurt to have the artwork of Zac Crockett.

I recently had a brief twitter back and forth about color choice in comics, and the conversation ended on a note (and I agreed) that comics with no color can just flat out be fantastic. The art of Zac Crockett supports these claims, as his pencil and ink work is just a wonderful surprise, and really the only worthwhile reason to pick up the book. There is nothing flashy about the art; no traditional superhero superfantastical biffbampow spread sometimes clogging the mainstream books. Rather, Crokett’s line work is super clean, and the inks bring out the right bits of emotions and detail where necessary. While sometimes the faces and bodies have moments of being a bit to cartoony, twisted, or not symmetrical, it is not enough to make the reader feel as if there is subpar work occurring. Rather, I suspect the work will only get better as he draws more, and his confidence is apparent on the pages toward the end as the story climaxes and in a way, so dos the effectiveness of the art.

These are young creators who are exhibiting some promise in creating new narratives to add to the world of comic narrative. While there are stumbles, the possibility of things to come does leave me hopeful for some future work from this team, either with this character or something else.