Sunday, April 06, 2008

Helen Killer #1 - A Review

Helen Killer, written by Andrew Kreisberg with art by Matt Rice.

Jim: This was a great read and had very strong art. What I really enjoyed about the story is the use of historical figures thrown into a nice action/adventure.

Lee: This issue is a total hoot! For as much as I thought the premise was ridiculous, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters are clear. The setup is concise. It’s a really good straightforward semi-superhero story that uses comic book logic to show how Helen Keller could have been an Secret Service agent.

Jim: In summary, the story starts with Helen Keller dreaming about her breakout moment when she learned how to communicate via sign language. The familiar sequence takes an unfamiliar turn when Helen kills her parents in her dream. It turns out the rage she felt as a child was not really erased but only buried very deeply and now manifests in her dreams.

The story jumps ahead to when Helen and her teacher are at college. After class, during an innocent walk down the street, Helen’s teacher is pulled away, and three men are about to attack Helen. She stops and hits some switch on her glasses and all of a sudden Helen Keller is Daredevil with a touch of super strength thrown in. As I’m reading this segment I was laughing and thinking how dumb this idea was, that Helen Keller being blind and deaf could be doing any of this. Helen Keller as Daredevil in 1901 was looking very inane.

Lee: I have to comment on this sequence because it is so over the top that it was great. I think if Kreisberg and Rice had played the scene straight then it wouldn’t have worked. But the fact that Helen flipped a switch in her glasses and suddenly pulled a Daredevil hop-skip-jump and Matrix bullet dodging was outstanding.

Jim: Suddenly, the fight stops and we find out it was a training exercise set up by the US Secret Service. Helen travels back to the lab where we learn that Alexander Graham Bell has designed these special glasses which allow Helen to actually see. It turns out her glasses not only allow her to see and hear and actually give her enhanced strength. With her newfound abilities, the Secret Service wants to recruit her to help protect the President from assassination at a conference. The issue wraps up with a reveal of the villain of the series.

Lee: The book is almost two distinct parts comprised of the fight scene in the beginning and lots of explanation at the end. It worked well because after seeing what Helen could do, it was good to have an explanation as to why she was suddenly a super heroine.

Jim: I agree. The “logical” explanation made up for my misgiving and sold me on this story. We see that the glasses have an element of danger to them and that Helen has a dark side that is not a good thing if she has super strength. I’m signed up for this series.

Lee: I have to admit I am surprised at how well the story is set up. Usually, the smaller independent writers are still learning their chops and the story tends to be choppy. Such was not the case here. There was a nice setup, the premise was defined well, and while I didn’t buy into everything, I still liked it. I figure if I can believe a man gained 300 lbs of muscle and turns green then I can believe Helen Keller can kick some street thugs butt. I felt that Kreisberg did a great job foreshadowing future problems and storylines for the next couple of issues. The teasers behind the “dark side” behind Helen’s glasses and even the villain really leave me wanting to learn more.

Jim: The art was also very strong. Good solid layouts and designs for each page. The art contains a lot of good detail and a strong ability to convey emotions. Matt Rice is a new name to me, but for a first effort this was a superior job. I’m anxious to watch Mr. Rice grow over the next few issues. Another element that impressed me about his work is that he is equally at home with brightly lit scenes as well as dark scenes. Becky Cloonan and Eduardo Risso mixed together; that I’m sure will become all Matt Rice’s own style.

Lee: We need to find something to disagree about because I really liked the art too. Rice tried lots of different camera angles to keep each page lively and managed to actually get the perspective right on almost all of them. Usually, that’s the first thing new artists toss out the window but he did a great job.

Jim: Andrew and Matt deserve for this book to get picked up and checked out by a lot of people. It has a good story that takes historical figures and puts them into a fictional story and it has strong art work to add icing on this cake. Helen Killer is a winner!

Lee: I couldn’t agree more. Helen Killer keeps it simple and we are rewarded with a fun read! I give it a solid A.

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