Anti/Hero review

When ‘events, dear boy, events’ mean that I can’t get my regular fix of the DC Universe, it’s time to try something new. And here’s a fresh corner of Gotham City where we find a different Dynamic Duo to the one we all know.

Not that Sloane MacBrute and Piper Pájaro are pals when we first meet them – they’re very much at odds.

Piper is the superheroine Hummingbird, though the police have nicknamed her Cheesy Chipster due to her tendency to litter crime scenes with fatty snacks. Or Wrecking Ball, for the damage she leaves behind at said scenes.

Sloane is simply Gray, a thief aided by holographic chum Minnie and the drones she’s created with her super-brain. Sloane would prefer not to be on the streets when she could be studying for school, but her sick Mom can’t keep a job and she needs the patronage of a mysterious figure known as The Bear to keep them above water.

As for gym rat Piper, she’s living with her grandmother and uncle, her scientist parents having flitted off to Antarctica, leaving her as confused and sad as any kid would be.

One night, the antagonists – who go to the same school but don’t recognise one another when in costume – are fighting over a mechanical device known as the TMI.

With the result…

On the one hand, I’m not the audience for a Young Adult graphic novel which looks perfect for teenage girls. On the other, this is very much all-ages fun and, having read my Auntie Bernie’s copies of UK comic Bunty as I grew up, I can appreciate a sharply written, well illustrated, girl-centred tale of unlikely friendship.

And that’s just what this is, as the Freaky Friday maguffin allows Sloane and Piper to walk in one another’s shoes towards common ground. Complicating things further is The Bear, wannabe crime king of Gotham who makes his goons dress in those cheap pseudo-kilts those of us who live in Scotland refer to as ‘towels’ – thin material ending well above the knee and worn without a sporran…

Mind, the Bear’s pet does have the traditional purse, but it’s sitting on a loincloth and the image is rather disturbing.

If he’s a true Scotsman, expect a bear behind

Written by Kate Karyus Quinn and Demitria Lunetta, and illustrated by Maca Gil with Sam Lofti, the 150pp plus Anti/Hero is a delight. Characters, setting and situation are deftly established in a superheroic romp powered by charm. The internal logic works, conflict, climax and conclusion satisfy, and there are some very intriguing loose ends which hint at more stories to come. The creative team – and that includes talented colourist Sarah Stern and stylish letterer Wes Abbott – mesh beautifully, delivering a pacy, great-looking book. I especially like Gil’s way with body language, while Lunetta and Quinn’s people – bearing in mind we’re in a superhero universe – feel real.

With new characters, a fresh take on classic themes and life lessons every generation needs to learn, Anti/Hero is the perfect read for any comics fan in need of a tonic. Warm yourself with a copy today.

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