Translating a web comic to a long form can sometimes lead to shenanigans. Often it’s because a premise that works for a few panels doesn’t sustain itself well over multiple pages as the writer doesn’t find a means of developing a narrative or emotional arc. Should I name names? No, no, no. Recently, I haven’t been reading as many web comics as I did about a year ago since I’m reading longer comics more regularly, plus trying to stay afloat in grad school really eats into the time I used to spend going through the archives of any web comic that a friend would recommend. That’s partially why I looked forward to giving Help Us! Great Warrior a read. I figured if it had enough of a following to make it to print then it must be pretty good although that sort of assumption doesn’t ring through anymore. Anyway, I also just dug the title’s reference to generic fantasy plotting and its adorable protagonist who’s yielding a sword with a rabbit head hilt although on second thought there is the possibility that it’s actually the head of a rabbit. From what I can tell, Help Us! Great Warrior concerns the adventures of the titular Great Warrior, a being of unknown species who’s occasionally called to save the day. However, rather than jump into action with complete enthusiasm, the Great Warrior would prefer to have a day of napping and perhaps finding some cake.
While never laugh out loud funny, I found Madeleine Flores’ script and artwork consistently cute and charming. In Flores’ hands, the Great Warrior is very likable with a personality that’s kind, carefree, and irresponsible. I love how Flores plays Great Warrior against type, never making her ladylike or poised in the manner of many fantasy female leads. Rather Great Warrior snorts, fails to put on deodorant, and only shampoos on a good day, downplaying all of it and only bringing attention to it for humorous effect.
In terms of action, the comic doesn’t have much in the way of memorable brawls, but I think that’s part of Flores’ hook. Early on, Great Warrior encounters an animal we would typically assume a protagonist would engage in a fight, but off panel Great Warrior befriends the being she later calls Bucket, riding the animal back to her village until she’s attacked by a pterodactyl. She then pulls off a badass move, punching her hands into small boulders to use as boxing gloves.
Leo and Hadiyah the High Chancellor round out the cast, the former another warrior from Great Warrior’s village and the High Chancellor doling out the issue’s mission. The relationship both have with Great Warrior leads to a meeting later in the comic where Hadiyah ruins a cake, and assigns Leo the opportunity to join Great Warrior on a mission.
Right now comics are in the midst of a turnover where women are finally getting the spotlight both as comic creators and characters in books. While work that offers complex portrayals of women is necessary, I also think comics like Help Us! Great Warrior have a great role to play in increasing the visibility of female comic book writers. An entirely female cast so far, Help Us! Great Warrior’s loose premise and humorous tone add greater dimension and variety to the type of work women in comics can be regarded for. Not since Julie Wertz’s Fart Party have I been this excited for a comic predominantly featuring body functions.
Writer/Artist: Madeleine Flores Colorist: Trillian Gunn Publisher: BOOM!/Boom Box! Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/11/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital