Sunday, March 18, 2007

Grrrl Squad #1

Grrrl Squad #1, March 1999, Amazing Aaron Productions
writers: Robert Brewer & Aaron Warner
artist: Aaron Warner
grayscaling: David F. Kleeberger

What characterises the empowered woman? Confident sexuality and assertive professionalism? High moral standards and determined initiative? Watch The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll and tell me if that's the empowered woman. Listen to the understandably embittered rants Cindy Sheehan and tell me. For the first time, America has a serious contender for the first female President on deck and we still don't know what the empowered woman looks like . . . because if it looks like a Pussycat Doll, Hilary Clinton certainly is not it.

In Grrrl Squad, the crew at Amazing Aaron Productions makes an offering we should consider -- one that combines all of the real world archetypes I've mentioned. It's a valiant effort, if already a bit dated.

Mayhem is an agent of the Grrrl Squad (Guerrilla Reconnaissance, Rescue, and Retaliation Legion), locked in a seemingly endless feud against Lady Malice and her HYDRA-like henchmen. With their James Bond-like weapons expert and their impossibly multi-leveled diesel truck base, it's all an obvious SHIELD spoof, complete with the Head of the Grrrl Squad sporting an eye patch. Still, their top agent retains an identity all her own, flaunting a sexuality through her skin tight action suit, yet asserting some political significance in her role as secret ops specialist. This issue is sheer set-up, offering an opening act of action-oriented proportions (again, with that Bond-like explosive teaser), an establishment of the critical players, and a lead-in to the next issue entertainingly enough, but the momentum comes from Mayhem herself, so compelling a character that all scenes evolve around her in some way.

I suppose that's one thing all women have in common, from Presidential hopeful to Pussycat Doll: the world evolves around them.

As an independent publishing effort, I must confess, Grrrl Squad #1 reminds me of the first few comic books published by my own K.O. Comix, what with its full color cover and grayscale interiors. Aaron Warner's art get better with every page, although the some of the pages are a bit pixelated, an unfortunate side effect of the grayscaling process, I presume. The front and back covers reveal the true potential of Amazing Aaron comics -- his artwork is truly suited for and benefits from full color production. My only real criticism is that more doesn't happen in this issue -- while it's a great pitch for the series, I don't want concept. I want story. The first act lasted too long, and another subplot could really flesh out the book's depth . . . unless the focus is really exclusively intended for Mayhem only. Funny -- I would've benefited from these criticisms in K.O.'s early days, too.

So, Grrrl Squad #1 suggests that guns and Heli-Chevys make for an empowered woman. They certainly show off some power, that's for sure. Ultimately, and unfortunately for many indie publishing efforts like Amazing Aaron Productions, like a Pussycat Doll or Presidential candidate, the true test is staying power. The truly empowered woman is one that evokes the reaction, I'd like to see you again. For the Grrrl Squad? I'd call her.

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