Yes, I already recommended Street Angel here, but that was per reader request, and anyhow, what I am recommending today is the Street Angel trade paperback, which is a whole other animal.
The Street Angel trade paperback (released this Wednesday) collects the first five issues of Jim Rugg and Brian Muruca’s Slave Labor Graphics series (Rugg drew the book, while both men wrote the book), along with a good deal of extras.
I will first give a quick breakdown of the first five issues, and then tell you about all the cool extras in the book.
Before that, a quick description of Jesse Sanchez (Street Angel). According to the creators, she’s a “daughter of justice who fights evil, nepotism, ninjas, and hunger.” Essentially, she is a homeless orphan living in the world’s worst ghetto who uses her skateboarding skills and martial artistry to kick bad guy behind.
#1 is an action-packed romp as Jesse must save the Mayor’s daughter from the evil Dr. Pangea and his band of ninjas. Even early on, all the trademark humor and inventive storytelling is on display (for example, at the bottom of one page, Jesse is surrounded by ninjas – at the top of the next page, all of the ninjas are unconscious and we are told that she beat them all up in the time it took for us to turn the page. THAT is the type of humor you’ll find in Street Angel).
#2 is probably the broadest humor issue, where CosMick, the first Irish astronaut crashes into the ghetto at the same time that Cortez and a group of Spanish conquistodors are transported to the future via the Incan sun god, Inti. A LOT of hilarious exchanges, in particular the Spanish conquistodor who posits that maybe they AREN’T from the past, but from a distant future where the cycle of history has repeated itself…said theory is shot down quickly (and humorously).
#3 is a fight of Biblical proportions, as Jesse finds herself facing a Satanic demon that even she can’t handle – so she needs an assist from G-O-D…and his son, JC.
#4 is an amazing issue, as it plays the “homeless orphan” routine COMPLETELY straight, which is a huge slap in the face after the previous farcical issues. Very strong, personal, poignant issue (imagine being seen dumpster rummaging by someone who knows you from school? HARSH!). I am talking “Skyscrapers of the Midwest” level awkwardness (and if you know Skyscrapers at all, you know that is some heavy-duty awkwardness).
#5 is back to fun stuff, as Jesse teams up with an old 70s blaxploitation superhero, Afrodisiac. The retro art by Rugg is well handled (this is also the character they do for Project Superior). In addition, a theme throughout the series is that Jesse is just a standard girl in many regards, except for her fighting and skateboarding skills. This issue, for instance, really highlights her naivatee in a funny, but endearing manner.
The extras are as follows:
-A funny introduction by Evan Dorkin.
-All the covers and back covers…including, as the introduction to each chapter, the drawing that was used in the inside front cover of each issue (a very amusing series where Jesse and a Squid grapple in different arenas each issue…chess, stockcar racing, wrestling…sadly, the Ninja tips that appeared on the BACK cover of each issue are not reprinted here).
-A quick two-page story where we see how, amongst fighting ninjas, it is the little things that matter.
-A parody of the old Hostess superhero ads. It manages to be funny AND stay true to the feel of the book.
-A new TWELVE page story where basically, Jesse re-enacts the plot of the Crossing, only in reverse. Remember how they brought the young Iron Man to the present to stop the present Iron Man from helping a super villain take over the world? Well, this is similar…just reversed. There is also a great line from Bald Eagle (the skateboard riding torso with only one arm who is Jesse’s sidekick) where he wants her to try throwing him, even though the first time they tried it, he broke an arm.
-Jim Rugg’s sketchbook
-And finally, more pin-ups than you can shake a stick at! Why you would WANT to shake a stick at a bunch of pin-ups is beyond me…but even if you WANTED to, you couldn’t! Because there are too many!
Bryan Lee O’Malley!
And MANY more!
Okay…Richard Hahn, Mike Hawthorne, Paul Hornshemeier, Dave Kiersh, Pat Lewis, Jasen Lex, Andy Macdonald, Ted May, Scott Mills, Lark Pien, Ed Piskor, Zack Soto, Lauren Weinstein, and Dan Zettwoch…so fourteen more.
But that’s still a lot of freaking pin-ups!!!
It is all wrapped up by this awesome looking wraparound cover…
And it all can be yours for fifteen bucks.
How cool is THAT?