Ladies and gentlemen-- the best new comic of the 21st century. (Archive, baby.)
324. Street Angel
Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca's Street Angel is totally the best new comic I've read this millennium. And if you don't believe me, well, hey, Grand Moff Cronin declared it to be good two years ago.
Street Angel is the story of one Jesse Sanchez, a young homeless girl who also happens to be the world's greatest kicker of asses. Armed with her trusty skateboard, she battles the forces of evil, which happen to include ninjas, mad scientists, demons, conquistadors, robots, more ninjas, and poverty. Along the way, she teams up with or encounters Incan gods, Irish/Australian astronauts, time-traveling pirates, weresharks, retired blaxploitation heroes, and a legless, one-armed hobo buddy. Oh, right, and Jesus Christ himself.
This book's everything I want out of comics. In fact, I'm going to dig up the classic term "joycore" to describe it. Heck, remember when I talked about pop comics? Street Angel is a wonderful pop comic. It's an explosive pop art masterpiece!
Honestly, Street Angel is capable of anything, from high-spirited, superbly wacky plots involving basketball-playing ninjas and/or mythological mix-ups, to a somber, realistic portrayal of what it'd be like to be a homeless pre-teen girl. Rugg and Maruca have a fantastic sense of humor which they bring to the page, be it through absurd situations or guffaw-inducing dialogue, but they also know how to tone it down when necessary. So, yeah, you can go from ludicrously violent ninja fights to a girl struggling to find some food, and not fall out of the world for a second.
Jim Rugg's art is also a huge selling point. Slick when it needs to be and crusty when it wants to be, Rugg's slight shifts in style keep the visuals refreshing and sell both the crazy fun and the down-to-earth seriousness. He brings together sensibilities from all eras of comics. Aside from that, he's also got an excellent sense of design, seen in his panel layout, figure placement, sound effects work, or general mise-en-page. The fifth issue, in particular, has a marvelous sequence of double splashes. Check this one out (try not to mind the spine crevice):
Street Angel's dripping with mad ideas, big action, and general badassery. You need to read it. It instills an almost unexplainable feeling of satisfaction: it's just good comics.
Slave Labor has collected all five issues, as well as a few short stories and pin-ups and numerous other goodies into a splendid travel-sized paperback edition. Buy it now. You shan't regret it, I promise you. If you need more convincing, visit the Street Angel website.
Jim Rugg has hinted at more Street Angel in the future. I look forward to more! In the meantime, though, I'll enjoy his other great work. Booyah!