By Jonathan Edwards
Helena Crash is a book I very likely would've skipped if I weren't reviewing comics on a weekly basis. The premise is high concept enough to draw attention, but it's only a shallow hook and not enough to make me really want to drop the $3.99 to find out more. At the same time, that's kind of what made me want to read and review it. After all, sometimes it takes looking where you normally wouldn't to find the hidden gems. And after reading through this first issue, I am glad I picked it. While not necessarily anything special, Helena Crash is an enjoyable read that doesn't take itself too seriously, nor does it make everything into a joke.
Now, the aforementioned premise revolves around it being the future/an alternate universe where, five years prior, coffee was made illegal. The eponymous Helena Crash is a courier-for-hire with the capabilities and connections necessary to make deliveries of such contraband possible (again, it's high concept). Furthermore, tensions between the local gangs are running high enough that at least one of their leaders is prepared to go to war in order to lessen the competition. And Helena, of course, finds herself somewhat in the middle of it all. That much is pretty standard stuff. But even so, it's working well enough so far.
And perhaps integral to that is the world it takes place in. There's no shortage of odd creature living, rather without question, beside humanity. That, in combination with the caffeine prohibition and the art, gives everything a very "similar but different" feeling, and I couldn't help but wonder how different and crazy things might get as the series progresses. Especially when everything we've seen so far in terms of this world's gangs include a group that "worships explosions", Rojo, who is depicted as a red-masked luchador, and "The White Demon," who I now really want to see in action.
In terms of art, it is a bit off-putting at first. However, by the end, I was digging it. Warwick Johnson Cadwell apparently worked on Tank Girl, and it definitely shows. Stylistically, it's perhaps best described as very cartoony and angular with a fairly bold usage of colors. Like I said, it contributes to the sense of "similar but different," but more than that, the unique aesthetic really serves as the foundation for it.
For me, Helena Crash ends up falling in the niche of entertaining, face-paced, and streamlined enough that I do want to read more, so I know I'll be coming back for at least one more issue. If you're looking for something to get a bit of a kick out of without having to think too hard, and/or if you get a least a little chuckle out of the idea of illegal coffee, I'd say this is probably worth taking a look.
Helena Crash #1