A badass female protagonist, a future where aliens and robots walk among us, and coffee smuggling all combine to make Helena Crash. The question is, is it good?
Helena Crash #1 (IDW)
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
From writer Fabian Rangel Jr (Space Riders) and artist Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (Tank Girl) comes a new pulse pounding, caffeine fueled, sword swinging, machine-gun firing, car crashing sci-fi adventure comic! In a future where coffee is illegal, Helena is a courier, delivering black market goods to anyone who can afford her services. When Rojo, a ruthless crime boss, asks her to assassinate his rival, the alien mobster known as White Demon, Helena finds herself in the middle of a gang war! To survive, Helena must use all of her skills, and seek help from her friends to stay ahead of her enemies!
Why does this book matter?
What drew me to this series was Warwick Johnson-Cadwell’s art, which is all kinds of fantastic. It has a 2D vibe most will know from his work on Tank Girl and it has a graffiti feel that’s quite unique. Add in a science fiction type story with a strong female lead and you’ve got me hooked!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
What a crazy world.
This is a visually arresting title that opens fast and furious with a car chase. Johnson-Cadwell’s style is chaotic, yet somehow pulls together beautifully with a great use of bright colors. The world is filled with impossible angles, strange characters, and interesting textures. It’s the type of art that feels very unique (again, somewhat reminiscent to Jim Mahfood’s work) in a way that makes you wish there was an animated cartoon in this style. The main protagonist has cool tattoos, and hair that’s somehow alive. There isn’t a panel that doesn’t tell you something about the character or world, which helps flesh things out in ways the captions and dialogue can’t.
Speaking of the writing, Fabian Rangel Jr. has laid out a compelling world for its protagonist, named Helena, to habitate. She’s clearly street smart and has to be as her job to get people hard to find things requires a savviness. The story introduces her in the thick of an action sequence, but we’re privy to a bit of character work as we learn how she grew up in a boxing ring and the types of folks she works with. Overall, this is a solid first issue that introduces the key players, the conflict, and Helena adequately.
She pulls that trigger like it’s nothing.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The art certainly makes it clear this is a book that’s about fun, but I still was left scratching my head as to how there are werewolves and robot men walking about in the future. The story here basically sets up Helena and the conflict she has with a new villain, but the world is somewhat vague. The chaotic nature of it all makes you wonder what the deal is, but if you stick to the rules laid out about this world (like why coffee is so hard to find) it’s not so bad.
Is It Good?
Overall, Helena Crash #1 is a satisfying introduction to the key players, conflict, and protagonist in a visually arresting way.