Thursday, August 03, 2006

Electric Girl #2

Electric Girl #2, Spring 1999, Mighty Gremlin
by Michael Brennan

Electric Girl and yesterday's selection, Finder, are opposite sides of the same comics coin. Both black and white titles feature tormented adolescents with amazing abilities and the harsh worlds around them. The difference is, where Finder took itself way too seriously with lofty narrative and surreal imagery to convey a sci-fi fairytale, Electric Girl uses the frivolity of youth to tell fun, linear stories of peculiarity and teenaged angst. For all intents and purposes, Electric Girl is a superhero, with the powers of . . . well, electricity. She can generate it and control things powered by it. Yet, Electric Girl doesn't wear tights and fight madmen in the street and meet with other superheroes to defeat cosmic conquerors. In fact, even in her mundane domestic disputes, which in this issue include a convenience store robber and a rude baseball enthusiast, she's rather idle. The gremlin that only she can see causes most of the trouble and she just cleans it up, with the finesse of a Clark Kent caught with his pants around his ankles in the Daily Planet broom closet. Yes, the gremlin that only she can see. That's the peculiarity I was talking about.

As early as issue #2, author Michael Brennan apparently mastered the storytelling ability of offering fantastic situations while still establishing characters to whom we can relate. In one story, Electric Girl tries to ignore her parents fighting over the phone, something we all experienced in our turbulent childhoods, I'm sure. In another story, Electric Girl and her best friend help a couple of zombies exact revenge on the fast food joint that accidentally poisoned them to death. The initial sight of the rather cartoony zombie is admittedly macabre, but a few panels later, the character is just as lovable as the rest of the cast. I dare say that Brennan weaves the supernatural into reality so well, I wonder if these elements were intended to be as allegorical as they seem. The gremlin can be the embodiment of the wantonness adolescents repress to mature more quickly; the awkward zombie could represent how out-of-place many teens really feel nowadays. Thinking that deep may add validity to the book, but it loses all the fun, and I think that's the true intention.

And who says fun isn’t valid, anyway? Brennan presents all of the traits of a doom-and-gloom goth comic without the doom-and-gloom or the goth. Electric Girl can't shake this annoying, tricky gremlin over her shoulder and his trail of chaos, but she isn't devoid of happiness. In the first tale, when her mother surprises her with a new dog, EG smiles with the joy of a kid at Christmas. That's a commendable quality in comics today. Further, the entire package of the book, from its cute colorful covers, to the fun "table of contents" inside, generate a buzz that sets this series apart and creates an appeal for established fanboys and casual readers alike. Oh, yeah. This girl is electric, all right.

No comments: