Rating: 5/5 – Jamal Igle and Action Lab team up to bring you the best book of the year
Reese’s Cups. Two great tastes that go great together. Chocolate and peanut butter blending so perfectly into a candied confection so good you’re drooling right now just thinking about it. It’s particularly helpful that they put two in the packs you buy at the store, because while you’re indulging in the first one, you’re also dreaming about how good that second one is going to taste.
Now that I’ve set up the bad analogy, let me tell you about the Reese’s Cup of comic books – Jamal Igle and Action Lab. Two great creative forces that go great together. They’ve created this amazing story about a pint-sized powerhouse called Molly Danger, and it just might be the best comic you’ll read this year.
First off, if you don’t know who Jamal Igle is, shame on you. Over the past decade he’s done work for many companies, but he might be best known for the work he did, along with writer Sterling Gates, helping redefine a certain Maid of Might for a certain major league comic publishing company. I’m not a mind reader, but I have to imagine it was his work on Supergirl that influenced his desire to tell a story about a different super-powered girl. More to the point, his desire to tell the story his way and maintain creative control over it. When his contract with DC Comics ended in 2012, he took the story and pitched it to the hardest audience out there – the comic buying public at large. No matter how much fame or recognition you have in the industry, going out on your own can be a scary and risky venture, but apparently a lot of people agreed with Jamal that his story was one they’d like to read. One successful Kickstarter venture later, and Molly Danger was born.
Secondly, if you haven’t bought a title by Action Lab…again, shame on you. If their Eisner-nominated book Princeless wasn’t enough to convince you that these guys mean business, perhaps checking out the wide range of titles they offer, from licensed books like NFL Rush Zone to humorous books like the RPG-sendup Double Jumpers to more mature fare like Ehmm Theory, Ghost Town and The Trip (found in their Danger Zone imprint). Of any independent comic book company out there, Action Lab truly has a comic for any type of reader with any kind of taste. Ignore them at your peril.
Okay, so Jamal is great. Action Lab is great. Is the actual book any good? I do my best to keep myself in the dark – as much as anyone can in the internet age – about any project prior to release, so when I backed this Kickstarter I did my best to ignore a lot of the news Igle put out about how it was going, what it was going to be about, how much fun he was having – okay, I read those because it’s really a kick to hear an artist talk about having fun on a project! – all with a goal of letting the proof lie in the final product. I knew I’d be reviewing it at some point, and I was determined to let this book succeed or fail on its own merits. Even keeping myself in the dark, I still went in with major prejudices. I planned on reading an amazingly rendered story of a little girl with super-powers. She’s going to beat up bad guys and I’m probably going to like it but I honestly didn’t see myself falling in love with it. It’ll be nothing I haven’t seen before, but I’ll probably like it a bit more because of who’s working on it and publishing it.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Without revealing too much, because I want you to go out and support this title with your hard-earned dollars and put it on the map, the story wasn’t anything I was expecting. Yes, she’s a girl. Yes, she beats up bad guys. Yes, it’s amazingly rendered. What knocked me out of my seat was that Jamal Igle the writer is every bit as creative and powerful as Jamal Igle the artist. If this book were just about Molly and her exploits, it would be good…but not great. Igle apparently knew that, and gave us a supporting cast of characters I actually want to know about as much as I do his titular character. Austin Briggs, ex-cop and newly recruited agent who keeps an eye on Molly. Brian, Austin’s stepson, who isn’t a fan of his new father but is a huge Molly fan. We’re only introduced to three of her rogues gallery in this first issue and already I want single issue stories detailing how they came to be. Heck, even when he’s throwing in tried-and-true tropes like the angry police chief, it’s done with enough humor and respect for the genre you’ll be smiling in spite of yourself. And yes, he avoids going over the line by not using “Your mouth’s writing checks your body can’t cash!” in that particular scene!
It was a crime that Princeless didn’t take home an Eisner for Action Lab last year. It will be out and out treason if Molly Danger doesn’t at least make the ballot for 2014’s awards. Do yourself a favor and seek this book out. Pre-order it. Buy two copies and give one to a friend. Tell your comic-store owner you want more of this. Trust me, you will.
Because like a good Reese’s Cup…this was only the first one, and I’m hungrily waiting to pick up that second one.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow – firstname.lastname@example.org
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