Sunday, January 15, 2017

Revue: Super Chibi Girl

Ladies and Gentlemen
It's a Bird...
It's a Plane...

No, it's...

Super Chibi Girl by Allen Steadham. In this story an alien, we'll call him Jeff, teleports into Allison's home while she's eating dinner and flips her entire life upside down. What follows is a rapid fire story about marriage, childbirth, and fighting alien terrorists.

As a disclaimer, I read through the comic portion of Super Chibi Girl. After several comic chapters the story is novelized and I didn't review that part.

The Rating 

There are shades of Superman

The Raves

Early in the story, Allison is killed, and Jeff saves her by taking her to the blue light -- an alien species who are apart of the B'wahii. When he does this, it turns Allison into a half-B'wahii to save her life, and I like this sudden shift. She's thrown out of her old skin and humanity and forced to take on an alien's culture and biology. Her physical capability changes but she's also forced to confront this alien on a more intimate level. It leads to some mix-ups as she tries to bridge her own human behaviors with the B'wahii way of life. It makes for a pretty good conduit to learn about the B'wahii race and to do the extended worldbuilding in the story. There's plenty of action to be had, but we also get to learn about family dynamics in the B'wahii world as well as some of the mythology behind their people.

Another major idea seems to be that love can transcend the environment you grew up in. Both Dawn's birth and her own seemed to be unwanted, but she doesn't want to repeat her father's unwillingness to love her own child. I like that change in her character, because Allison begins the story very self-centered. So much so that she lies and runs away without helping Jeff (as she said she would).

Another aspect I liked about this story was that characters try and reason through their situation. When Allison meets Jeff and before she decides to run away, she's deliberating with herself on what she should do. Later on when Allison saves Slim, he tries to think through what happened and understand it better.

Slim piecing together the clues about the mysterious alien woman.

Art-wise, I liked the pencil drawings at the beginning. As the story goes on, the art changes from the pencil drawings to full on digital color and inked pages -- and they're pretty decent. At times the visual effects didn't seem to mesh well especially with some of the pencil drawings. Some background perspective could use some work too.

The Razzes

As much as I enjoy the story's rapid-pace, I think the way some events were condensed made the story feel too rushed. At times it felt like the story didn't have time to breathe because of it.

I thought Slim's introduction in the present day of the comic was confusing and awkwardly done. Allison saves a person falling from the roof and then as they exchange dialogue that person, who is Slim, realizes that he's talking to Allison. This is juxtaposed with a flashback in the previous page where Slim is asking Allison out years ago. I had to read those pages a few times to get what was happening. Slim looks vastly different as a young person and I didn't put the two together easily. There's a lot being crammed into 2 page of comic and everything is being contorted to bridge these two moments together, but I think to better pace the scene out we needed a scene to establish his investigation of the damaged rooftop and falling or someway to connect the flashback to him. There is a narration link where Slim says that the flashback was trigger because he touched Allison, but a visual connection would be stronger.

The start of chapter 3 is also confusing. At first we're teleported into Allison's mother's home, but then Slim's home, but then Allison's mother is able to overhear their conversation. After the first 10 pages of chapter 3 I didn't know where we were spatially. Don't get me wrong there's some great dialogue and stuff in those ten pages, but trying to sort out where they are takes me out of the story.

There is a lot of suddenness that happens in this story and as much as I enjoy the rapid pace of it I want some space in between the events.

On one hand, I like that Allison is thrown into this situation and forced to adapt and learn because that's one way a character can grow in a story, but on the other hand it feels like she has very little agency in how things happen. When Allison and Jeff hug they inadvertently create a new child (B'wahii reproduce with hugging). This triggers the two being married together, and Allison who hasn't really had time to process the whole thing is pushed even deeper into a relationship with Jeff. She accepts all of this and even wants to love Dawn.

The message for all of this could be a reflection of what marriage and pregnancy is really like: when it happens, it just does and it's life-changing. If that's the case, I'd want to put up a strong parallel between Allison and Jeff and, say, Allison's mom her ex-husband Bruce to illustrate the point otherwise it feels abrupt. There is a parallel like that later, which was a scene I really liked.

Another issue I had with the story was: are the B'wahii way to super powered?

Jeff can teleport, shoot lasers out of his eyes, fly, telepathically swap minds, and have access to a deity-like blue light that can revive the dead. In a sense he's even more powerful than Superman. Yet, when we meet Jeff on the first page of the story he is being faced down by two terrorists who want to kill him. To avoid them he teleported to Earth and it starts this whole story, but why not just zap them with his eyes? They were standing pretty close to one another. He does that eventually to kill a few of them who come after him.

This always seems like the problem with super-powers (and even I have this issue with my own story). "If my character can do that, then why not this?" Wouldn't he have a better understanding of his powers and pick something in his arsenal that seemed less prone to random disaster such as teleporting light years away into someone's kitchen? Certainly, there's a character who is acting instinctively in a fight-or-flight moment, but if he knew what he was capable of wouldn't he weigh his options better? Or maybe the scenario needed to be setup to show that he was entirely surrounded with no way out.

The Revue

It's an engaging and fast-paced character driven, optimistic story about an alien, Jeff and a human, Allison who try to come to terms with the major changes in their lives by their chance meeting. There is some clumsy storytelling but otherwise still enjoy story.

1 comment :

  1. That was a very fair review of Super Chibi Girl, Glenn, and I appreciate it. Thanks so much!


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