OK, I know what you’re thinking: you’ve already got an image in your head: beautiful, busty–how about something…like…this:
Yeah, it’s certainly plain to see: Adam Hughes has a knack for giving a fanboy what he wants. But let’s be honest: even in comics, there’s more to a woman–more to Power Girl, even–than spandex-stretching curves, right?
Well, let’s consider, as exhibit A, Cola, the cloud-hopping heroine of the post-apocalyptic action-adventure Wild Blue Yonder #1 (IDW).
She’s a spitfire; she’s full of spunk: heck, she’s Maverick from Top Gun doing her own thing–because her boots are made for flying! The minds behind this Waterworld-in-the-sky dogfight delight–story credit given, surprisingly, to three: Mike Raicht, Zack Howard, and Austin Harrison; let’s hope this doesn’t end up a case of too many pilots spoiling the flight plan–have crafted Cola as a neo-Night Witch (see Garth Ennis’s incorrigible Anna Kharkova for a WWII/Cold War counterpart) and have outfitted her in an androgynous get-up, allowing her femininity to flow from her character and not from some titillating cleavage-baring caricature.
Amongst men, whether in the “‘local’ bar” The Peak or in the pilot’s seat, she holds her own–in the latter, especially so: no, she doesn’t rely on womanly wiles in the midst of battle; her potency is proven as she uses her plane’s nose-mounted cannon to bring down an enemy aircraft. And like Janet Jackson, Cola’s in control–that is until her mother lets her have it and leaves her meekly submitting, “Yes, ma’am.”
Yes, sir, this is fun stuff: thanks, in part, to Zack Howard and Nelson Daniel’s beautifully bombastic artwork, reminiscent of the uncanny Chris Bachalo, Wild Blue Yonder is the comic equivalent of a summer blockbuster–one that’s both gripping and grisly and good enough to warrant another date with the deliciously capable Cola.
Speaking of capable women: if you’ve been following Brian Wood and Ming Doyle’s Mara (Image), then you know the turn that the title character has taken in issue #5.
Once worshiped for her athletic prowess on the volleyball court, she’s now an angry god with a grudge; and she’s passing judgment on humanity for the demands it has placed on her; for its “[taking] almost everything from” her, including her brother–who is done away with in a decidedly understated manner, one that emphasizes the brutality of the act and the disheartening cruelty of man; and for its ultimately, and unnecessarily, treating her–a woman with awesome power–as a threat. A threat! Oh, she’s had enough, all right: she’s spiking the ball; she’s looking to record one final kill–or, more accurately, megadeath.
To amplify the shift in Mara’s perspective, Wood and Co. brilliantly bookend this issue with sparing splashes–the first depicting Mara’s open hands, perhaps indicating peace, against the vastness of the the starry heavens; and the final, a hailstorm of rapidly descending nuclear missiles. See: she’s no longer “a member of the human race”; she is the vengeful God of the Old Testament who sends the rain to wash away the sins of man.
While similar to Wild Blue Yonder in some respects, Mara differs in that it’s no blockbuster: it’s more of a critically-acclaimed independent film, thanks to Wood’s distinctively deliberate–dare I say wonderfully wooden–delivery (to which I’ve grown more accustomed now that I’m all caught up with The Massive) and to Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire’s subtly volatile sets, which come together to allow Mara–and this terrific issue–to simply and dramatically stand alone. Worship as you will. Book of the Week (6/19).