All throughout May, I’ll spotlight a different web comic. Like with the month of independent comics and the month of LGBT comics, I figure I will let you web comic creators out there suggest your comic for spotlight during this month. So if you want me to spotlight your comic, drop me a line at email@example.com!
Today we look at a new online comic book called Birth of Venus from Andrew Makishima, Matthew Rice and Rory Walsh. The first issue is available FREE today (timed to coincide with Free Comic Book Day!). It is about a woman who gains superpowers through her unborn baby.
In case you don’t recall the name, Matthew Rice was the artist on the Helen Killer mini-series from a couple of years ago. If you remember, while I wasn’t the biggest fan of the comic itself (it was decent), I thought Rice’s art was quite good.
He does a good job on this book, as well, which is about a young woman named Mara who comes to visit her twin sister, Madge, in the big city – a city filled with superheroes and supervillains. The sisters dress up as superheroes for a costume party but her sister (who is a reporter – think Lois Lane) is called away on a tip regarding a hot story involving a mysterious “rebirth” movement.
So when a bad guy shows up to silence the reporter, he mistakes Mara for Madge, and that’s bad news for Mara….
Mara is barely alive when the paramedics arrive and once she’s rushed to the hospital, the doctors put her into a medically-induced coma. Times passes and things look really bad, but then suddenly, out of nowhere, she’s not only recovering from her injuries, she’s actually in BETTER shape than she was before the attack!
Her sister, meanwhile, is investigating the situation along with her ex-boyfriend, a tough detective (Madge is quite popular – the Superman analogue, The Guardian, flirts heavily with her in the issue, as well).
Then a discover is made – the guy who attacked Mara also raped her, and apparently impregnated her. And since the baby is superpowered, Mara is getting superpowers from the baby. We see it in action when one of the bad guys’ agents comes by to silence Mara again once she wakes up…
The whole “woman gets superpowers from her superpowered baby” angle is quite novel, and it makes for a great premise. However, the rape situation is kind of weird. Now, this is just issue #1, and Mara has JUST woken up, so we don’t know how Makishima plans on dealing with the whole rape scenario, but I dunno…when your tagline for the comic is “The Mother of All Superheroes!” and your promotional stuff has lines like “this comic delivers,” it seems, if not a joke, certainly more on the lighthearted side of things, no? So I worry about the approach from that perspective, but do note that, again, this is only issue #1, they very well could deal with the rape issue with great sensitivity in #2, but I can’t help but wonder if it would not have been easier to just find another way to get Mara pregnant with a superpowered baby other than having her be raped. She obviously just got over a bad relationship, so couldn’t she just have a one-night stand with a guy who turns out later to be a super villain? Mara being raped is such a major deal that I just don’t know how you can properly deal with that while also properly handling Mara dealing with her superpowered pregnancy as well as the whole “who the bad guys are, why they want to kill Madge, etc.” deal.
Again, though, to be clear, I am not saying that they WON’T be able to pull it off, just that I’m concerned. I hope they do – it will be quite interesting.
In any event, you can read the full first issue right here. Rory Walsh does a great job on the colors.