All I want from everything I read is for it to be the best version of itself. The best version of Help Us! Great Warrior is a sweet, hilarious comic for children and young teens, an audience assessment I don’t dish out often, but feels especially vital to consider when writing about this book. Throughout my reading, I reread each page through two different lenses: twenty-five year old immature, neurotic me, and twelve-year-old immature, neurotic me. Doing this was difficult as it entailed a constant analysis of what a twelve-year-old version of myself would or would not know about story structure, subverting character tropes, and how comics work. It was a fantastic way to determine just how much I’ve learned about comics in the past few years, and it made me a kinder reader, something I hope to transfer to each book I read. At the turn of the last page though, both versions of myself agreed: Help Us! Great Warrior is currently not the best version of itself. I think Help Us! Great Warrior only works for a young audience, or those who don’t mind a story that’s interesting in the moment, but almost completely forgettable. This issue continues the story of Great Warrior as she’s encouraged to fight a large reptilian phantasm from Demonside. In her reluctance, the demon destroys the village of Great Warrior and her friends, stomping the entire place with just one step. The sage then gives us some backstory on the nature of these demonic beings before revealing some information at the end that’s perhaps meant to be a surprise twist, but seemed likely from the first issue.
One of the strongest elements of this book is its art style, using cartoonishly overly exaggerated facial expressions to sometimes-comedic effect, but still toning things down during more serious bits of dialogue. Flores manages with very few details to convey stress, anxiety and bliss across the faces of several characters. Most pages are composed of tight shots of whatever two characters are speaking, which is alright if a bit boring after a time. The flashback scenes we get though really give Flores a chance to show a bit more range, illustrating a bevy of demons that I’m hopeful Great Warrior encounters in future issues. Additionally, the use of a black and purple color palette during the flashbacks here are also nicely done by Trillian Gunn, giving the book a creepy feel for those few pages while somehow maintaining a light tone.
Help Us! Great Warrior interests me for Madeleine Flores’ lack of concern for plot. Instead, it focuses on using its characters to make jokes that poke fun at the Hero’s Journey, something that twelve-year-old me probably wouldn’t have picked up on. The issue with this as the comic’s focus is that, as opposed to the premiere issue, much of what’s intended to evoke laughter just left me silent, and at times, groaning. For instance, after an exposition dump from Hadiyah the sage, Great Warrior points out a problem in the narrative she tells, and then reacts in the following panel with a gesture to rub it in the sage’s lapse in logic. Rather than come off cute or clever though, these two panels feel like they just reiterate a joke we have heard numerous times before. I think there is an ideal audience for Help Us! Great Warrior, but it’s definitely not for me at any age.
Help Us! Great Warrior #2 Writer/Artist/Creator: Madeleine Flores Colorist: Trillian Gunn Publisher: BOOM!/BOOM Box Price:$3.99 Release Date: 3/11/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital