Digital Comic Overlook #3: Ame-comi Girls #1-6
Jimmy Palmiotti has done many things. He is probably best known for his highly acclaimed run on the Jonah Hex title. He once formed a publishing company with Joe Quesada, the former Editor In Chief of Marvel Comics. He co-created Painkiller Jane, which became a show on the Sci-Fi Network.
He also writes DC’s Digital First comic,Ame-Comi Girls.
When the AV Club had a crack at it, they had this to say: “DC’s Ame-Comi Girls line is a perplexing thing. These digital-first comics are based on T&A anime statues of DC heroines like Wonder Woman, Power Girl, and Batgirl, but it’s unclear who the audience is for this book. The stories by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have an all-ages simplicity, with bright, cartoonish artwork by artists like Ted Naifeh, Sanford Greene, and Amanda Conner, but the exploitative costumes make for an uneasy disconnect between plot and design.”
Here the thing, though: these are ladies in superhero outfits, already a racy prospect to begin with. So if you assemble a bunch of superheroines in one place… well, you’re going to have a lot of skimpy and skin-tight costumes. (On the flip side: assemble a bunch of male superheroes in one place and there’s gonna be a lot of pecs, abs, and flexing.) In fact, I’d say it might even be a little toned down. Wonder Woman here? Wearing the Amazonian power armor, she’s actually dressed more conservatively. In fact, she’s practically a Mennonite compared to the bathing outfit she wears in her regular comic.
Turning Braniac into a female tentacle monster, though, may have been taking things a step too far.
I’m gonna say that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray knew exactly what they were evoking with that scene.
So, to answer the AV Club question, who’s this comic aimed for? Starting with the manga-inspired art, you can probably make a pretty direct connection between Ame-Comi Girls and Japanese magical girl series… namely Sailor Moon. Both have an all female roster of costumed heroes. Both have a penchant for long action beat downs. And yes, both can get somewhat racy at times (without falling off the slippery scale into full-on fanservice). Was there a tentacle monster in Sailor Moon? I only ever caught the series in bits and pieces, but I’m pretty sure there was one. Thus, the audience should intersect neatly on the same Venn Diagram scale. Does that mean it includes both pre-teen girls and creepy neckbeards? That’s for you to decide.
As for the story… there is none. Female superheroes show up, and they fight female supervillains (and other female superheroes). This seems to be set in a world where the male counterparts of the ladies just don’t exist. So there’s no Flash, but there is a Jessie Quick. (Which is fine by me. I actually like the character quite a bit.) Batgirl and Robin strike out on their own … which is a significantly different dynamic than Batman and Robin, as both girls are high schoolers who are far more upbeat than their stentorian counterparts.
The main appeal of the comic is seeing your favorite DC Comics heroic archetypes a) drawn as ladies and b) drawn in a manga style. Batgirl’s outfit, for example, gets a costume overhaul that seems less at home with Gotham and more visually consistent with the Gatchaman series. Joker’s Daughter (who’s been brought into this series since having Joker in here would violate the “all lady heroes” rule) sorta resembles less a murderous clown and more a cute Gothic Rei Ayanami.
There seem to be no real animosity between the heroes and villains. While blows are exchanged, it comes off like a tiff between two minor cliques. There are some fun moments, though. After the battle with Braniac is won (Spoilers: the heroes win), Steve Trevor shows up to try to organize the Ame-Comi Girls as an official branch of the Federal Government (a la the Avengers). Power Girl has some major reservations though — mainly because Batgirl and Robin are technically not adults. So what does she do? She drags the girls to a meeting with their parents and spills their secret identities.
I love how, in this scenario, it’s Jim Gordon who’s in the wheelchair. The parents are super upset about the superhero activities, but Power Girl does stump for them by saying that hey, they did save the world. If Ame-Comi Girls had more moments like this, I’d place it right up there with the many comics out there that I find cheescake-y, but still worth reading.
Sadly, most of the comic is disposable action stuff, which seems to be the bulk the New 52 these days. The superheroines fight, then they find a new enemy, then they fight some more, then they find another new enemy causing the former rivals to team up, and then there’s more fighting. Old comics used to pause for breathers. Shoot, classic Spider-Man is remembered more fondly for his dilemmas in the home life than the brawls with Doctor Octopus. But, you know, comics these days: it seems to be standard to have five issues of brawling and one issue of interesting stuff.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5.)