TGIF! Wait, it’s not Friday… DIOW! (Damn, it’s only Wednesday). Still, it’s not all bad, because I discovered another great webcomic to share. Heads up though, this one involves occasional profanity and violence, and discusses some rather mature topics, so anyone under 16 should probably stop reading now.
Strong Female Protagonist is a superhero comic by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag, and does a deeply introspective deconstruction of the genre. The titular protagonist is Alison Green, formerly known as the teenage powerhouse Mega Girl. As a “biodynamic”, Alison was part of the super-team known as the Guardians, and put her super-strength and invulnerability to use against super-villainous threats. However, coming to the realisation that helping people was about more than just beating up bad guys, Alison publicly reveals her secret identity and quits the team, determined to have a normal life and find better ways to improve the world. Now living as a student, Alison has to deal with the prejudice of those who see biodynamics as dangerous freaks, and with the moral dilemmas of just how (and if) she should use her powers.
The underlying theme of SFP is the question of how much good superheroes actually do in the “real” world. Alison agrees that they were necessary when the world was facing supervillains in giant robots and the ability to brainwash people into becoming their slaves. She questions, however, just how relevant that all is when there is still disease, poverty, war, rape and violence in society. The world is incredibly complicated morally, and Alison admits that all she really knows is how to break things. Her soul-searching journey and the questions she asks herself throughout the story give insight into her need to help people; Alison wants to be a hero, but she wants to do it right this time. Along her way she encounters friends and enemies, both old and new, and the line between them becomes blurred by her changing outlook on life. Make no mistake, the title is less about her powers and more about her character than it lets on.
I discovered Strong Female Protagonist over the weekend and blasted through it in a day; the archives go back to 2012, and the story is really engaging. This could easily have turned out as dark as Watchmen, but the characters are likable while remaining realistic, and there is remarkably little cynicism to be found. Despite everything that goes on in a world of questionable morals, there is always a sense of optimism that helps you believe that everything will get better, and isn’t that what superhero comics are supposed to be about?
Strong Female Protagonist updates Tuesdays and Fridays, go check it out, you will not be disappointed.
Ciao for now.