When Ruby Kaye lands a pair of hi-tech glasses invented by a brainiac student in a game of strip poker, she's granted flight, super-strength, and - due to a flaw in the specs' programming - super-klutziness! That's the set-up for this indie comic by Sam Johnson and Sally Stone-Thompson, first published last October but back with a second-print cover courtesy of Meisha Mimotofu.
There's a refreshingly everyday feel to the interactions of the students who make up Ruby's social circle. There are no nasty jocks or bitch queens, just believable kids who may get briefly annoyed at one another for, say, spilling a drink on a dress, but don't swear vengeance. Ruby is a little ... enthusiastic in her pursuit of scientist Trevor's glasses, but I'd want them badly too. And while it's pretty unbelievable he'd use them as a stake in a card game, drink is involved. No doubt he'll be trying to get them back before long.
There's a little too much space given to the admittedly enjoyable banter and too little to seeing Ruby strut her stuff as Geek Girl, but I like what we do get. Plus, there's a fine moment of foreboding once Ruby leaves after doing her first official good deed.
Stone-Thompson's work isn't the slickest, but she gives her characters comendably varied features and clothing, and shows a good touch with backgrounds; unfortunately, too many pages seem to be set in a featureless limbo. This is something colour could have helped with, but this is a black and white book.
Still, a comic starring a heroine with super-klutziness is almost bound to have a few hiccups.
Also out now is Mr Mash-Up #0, a Geek Girl spin-off. In the first of three strips aimed at older readers, Cabra Cini, Voodoo Hitwoman, has accepted a contract on Tom Spelling, who killed his girlfriend in a pretendy vampire lark. Along the way, she runs into one Mr Mash-Up. And if that sounds familiar, you've either read Digital Visions #4 or my review of same. The rest of this black and white comic is also reprint material, showcasing Mr Mash-Up in his appearances outside of Geek Girl.
Return of the Prodigal #!%* shows us a different side to the limbo demon Cabra meets, with him positioned as underappreciated scion of a warrior family.An albino scythe-slinger, he has the ability to become anyone's worst nightmare, and here teams up with female fighter Delfi Matrix, who's getting a spotlight in Geek Girl. Like all the strips in this anthology, it's written by that man Johnson, and the mystery is how the apparently sane warrior here becomes the monster seen in the other strips. It establishes Mr Mash-Up's power during a scuffle with the 'Screemers', but Delfi fails to step out of the box marked Generic Female Fighter. The art by penciller Eric Lamont and inker Mike Bunt has energy, but looks very much like the work of journeymen beginners.
Then there's Gold Town, a place where urban legends are real - and Mr Mash-Up is among them. He's barely seen this strip, but his presence is felt as one Pete the Pimp, a rubbish wrangler of ladies of the night, bids to recruit new girls. Unfortunately for him, the only woman interested turns out to be more than he can handle. While Pete's open declaration to strangers that he's a pimp, and Huggy Bear wardrobe, made me giggle, this strip has the most potential, in a comics grindhouse way. Meisha Mimotofu's art isn't flashy, but the layouts work well and the characters look fine. The storytelling works for the most part, bar one moment when it seems Pete has been shot, but he hasn't - the shame of it is, I loved the composition of the panel which 'showed' he'd taken a bullet.
All in all, Mr Mash-Up is a varied read, showcasing Johnson's versatility, as well as his tyro artists and the title character.
Being from a small British independent, you may find it difficult to get hold of Geek Girl and Mr Mash-Up, so I'm borrowing some info from Actuality Press' PR bumf. But call me Mr Advertorial and I'm setting the Voodoo Hitwoman on you!
Geek-Girl #0 is available now in $2.50 Regular and Variant Editions and $1 digital/Kindle Editions – along with regular and digital editions of Mr. Mash-Up #0 – at www.geekgirlcomics.com