Wednesday, 09 July 2014 15:53

‘Street Angel #2:’ Comic Book Review

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Issue two of Street Angel is all kinds of crazy, and bizarre, and absurd, and hilarious.  It is the strangest amalgam of ideas I have seen in a long time, and it is an absolute hoot. For you history buffs out there, this is the issue for you.  Writer and artist Jim Rugg and his co-writer Brian Maruca give us Incas, Spanish Conquistadors, Irish astronauts, and, of course, ninjas, and they all fit together in the most time-traveling-est of ways.  There are a multitude of ideas swirling around in this issue, and Rugg’s sharp, black-and-white line work make those ideas come to totally realistic, yet unrealistic, life.  Perhaps best of all is their interpretation of the Incan sun god Inti, whose appearance and dialogue elicit immediate laughter, because it is so wonderfully anachronistic and utterly unexpected.  There is also a great visual of an astronaut flying through the air on a jetpack/rocket, his arms and legs dangling like wet noodles, adding a hysterical touch to an already ridiculous scenario.  I’ll be lessening the calculated randomness of Rugg and Maruca’s creative insanity if I talk too much about the story, and I just can’t be responsible for that.  I will say that this story zigs and zags and makes leaps that seem incongruous at first, and maybe even still seem so at last, but that is the world of Street Angel.  It is a beautiful non sequitur of a comic.

The ghetto of Wilkesborough is a blank canvas on which Rugg and Maruca paint whatever story they want, the only constant being Jesse Sanchez, known by all as Street Angel, the thirteen-year-old martial arts expert and “greatest homeless skateboarder,” a line taken directly from this issue (See what you’re in store for?  It’s fantastic!), who protects her ghetto, and, at times, the larger Angel City, and deals with all assortment of strange goings-on.  She’s the go-to girl for ghetto and city saving and the constant nightmare of all Wilkesborough ninjas.  Speaking of ninjas, where else can you see ninjas ride a fire engine?  I’ll tell you where: Nowhere! The dialogue, ranging from discussions about the likelihood of time-traveling to the past as opposed to the future, the inexplicable duality of Conquistadors who liberate virgins but also rape and pillage villages, and the ages-old ninjas versus pirates debate, as well as the acknowledgement that Australian is Earth’s friendliest “language,” is all as bizarre and outlandish as it sounds, and it’s all delivered with a straight face that makes it even funnier.  

Each issue of Street Angel is its own unique art piece, abstract and absurd, with a through-line story full of curlicues and corkscrews that you can’t even try to predict, making for a joyous experience.  The cover maintains the same pink hue from the first issue, but here it is used to create an avant-garde visualization of issue two’s storyline, and there is a modern art-styled alternate cover at the back that shows off Rugg’s artistic versatility and Street Angel’s outspoken attitude. Also, the credits page always features a completely unrelated image, and this one was so dynamic and funny, it could easily fuel its own issue.  Continued kudos to Monkeybrain Comics for letting these guys do their thing, and do it their own way. 

If you aren’t already, go and get in on the ground floor of their ever-rising high rise of creativity (which includes Street Angel) at monkeybraincomics.com.  Rugg and Maruca don’t explain everything, and this isn’t the kind of book where you’re asked to draw your own conclusions.  All you’re asked to do is to go along for the ride and to enjoy the trip.  And, Street Angel is one weird, wonderful trip.

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