Artist and writer Alex Heberling had me at magical girl comic. I stumbled across The Hues at WisCon earlier this year and snagged myself a copy of volume one, which came with a complimentary full color poster signed by the artist herself. In the front of the book is a list of donors who helped fund Alex’s Kickstarter campaign, and I am so grateful that they did. The quality and professionalism of the book and the artwork are impressive; The Hues has all the trappings of a full blown manga series that is heading toward it’s own anime. As a longtime Sailor Moon fan with high standards for magical girls, the first volume in this comic series satisfied me.
Here’s how the anthology stood up to the HerStoryArc Scale of Inclusivity:
- Not offensive to women: 1/1 points
- Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character: 2/2 points
- Passes the Bechdel Test: 3/3 points
- Artistic and/or entertaining: 3/4 points
- Above and beyond general media: 5/5 points
The protagonist is seventeen-year-old Samhita Raju, who has decided to start a vlog to document her theories on recent events in her neighborhood. A mysterious, large symbol appeared in the sky over the city of Columbus forty-two days earlier. The news and internet is awash in theories, but Samhita has a particularly personal reason to do her research: she has been dreaming of the symbol for her entire life.
As comics and anime fans know, large things that appear in the sky usually don’t bode well for the inhabitants of the earth. Lucky for earth, Samhita’s special skill set is just beginning to manifest. When all hell breaks loose, Samhita goes searching for her parents and finds more than she reckons for. Fate brings Samhita into the company of other strange women with strange powers, all trying to find a path through the coming apocalypse.
Creator Alex Heberling throws you right into the fray with no hand-holding. While the “big bad thing in the sky” is a well-used plot device, I felt tense with anticipation to see how this version would unfold. I immediately empathized with Samhita’s character and was easily drawn into the story. The artwork is rich in color and detail. In all truth I found the some of the scenes truly terrifying. However, I did not award full points for entertainment due to some story pacing that was slightly off in the middle of volume one. The seriousness of what is happening in the world, to thousands if not millions of people, did not always impact the characters in a way that made sense to me. I feel this could have been remedied by spending just a bit more time showing us the character’s reactions as things fall apart. Overall, the story was well done and I have seen far worse mistakes made by traditionally published writers in the industry.
I really enjoyed that the main protagonist is a girl of Indian descent, and that the physical and personality types of the women were varied greatly. Samhita is short and slim, wearing comfortably stylish clothes. Andy is proportioned like your average American woman, with wider hips and a thicker waist, who loves motorcycling. Hannah is tall, lanky, and ghostly pale and prefers to be alone. Lauren is big and tall and rocking a very signature punk style. Each of the women is complex and has her own reasons for moving inside this story. I also appreciated that the creator prominently featured an unnamed woman as a police officer. Diversity among background characters is, in many ways, just as important as having diversity among the main characters.
If you love Independence Day, Sailor Moon, Lumberjanes, or The X-Files, I think you’ll enjoy The Hues. You don’t have to wait to invest in the hard copy to enjoy the story, either. Alex Heberling provides all the volumes to read on her website for free. I’m looking forward to digging into volume two soon!
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