No Heroine Part 1: Kayla Strong
Former heroin addict Kayla Strong is in recovery. Cut off from her family, she only has one person to lean on - her friend Sid, who helped her find the strength to get sober. But Sid's gone missing...
Word on the street is, Sid's running with a vampire crew. Kayla knows that can't possibly be true - but as she goes to confront the gang, she's wise enough to gear up for a fight!
But can an ordinary girl like Kayla prevail against bloodthirsty vampires? It's going to take a whole lot of skill, creativity, and luck for sure!
Self-published indie books are where raw creative talent is at its rawest. Sometimes, that talent still needs to be molded – and there’s no shame in that; everybody has to start somewhere. But other times, a creative team has such a clear vision, with such a pure commitment to its execution, that it becomes obvious that these creators are going to not only make it, but become rock stars in the industry.
No Heroine, by Frank Gogol, Criss Madd, and Shawna Madd is a shining example of this.
The idea, or pitch as it were, is deceptively simple: “What if Buffy was a recovering heroin addict?” Premise set; let the sparks fly. Enter Kayla Strong, a punked-out addict in recovery, just trying to make it in a world where she’s burned all her bridges. It’s a sadly typical arc for an addict to follow, but Gogol doesn’t dwell on it for too long, keeping the pacing brisk. He gives readers just enough tidbits about Kayla that they have a general feel for who she is and where she’s come from; the pace of the comic isn’t bogged down by the weight of trying to tell her whole backstory.
He also doesn’t expend a lot of exposition setting up a world with vampires; they exist, and that’s just the way it is. What he does do, though, is dovetail the idea of drug dealers and vampires being essentially one and the same. It’s not a very subtle metaphor, but it doesn’t have to be, because for the purposes of the story No Heroine is telling and the world it’s building, it works. This isn’t a pretty story about a pretty cheerleader living in a pretty world. This is a world about a damaged person who dwells on the margins of society, trying to make her way and make right the sins of her past. She’s also trying to reconcile who she was with who she is now in a world that doesn’t want to let her forget she used to be a junkie.
Details and general setup aside, the plot doesn’t bog itself down under too much weight early on. Instead, it charges ahead, and gives readers what they want to see: Kayla versus vampires. That’s where the comic stumbles a little; with no plot device in place to explain how Kayla is able to so successfully combat vampires a la Buffy being the chosen Slayer, readers are left to assume that Kayla is a) just that good at fighting, b) really lucky and/or resourceful, or c) it hasn’t been explained yet. Nonetheless, the climactic fight is very well-executed; Kayla uses several unexpected tricks up her sleeve to overcome the vamps and recover Sid, setting up an expertly-crafted, emotionally resonant climax that hits all the right chords.
Artistically, Criss Madd’s art is a little rough around the edges, as is befitting an up-and-comer artist, but hardly poor by any means. His style is reminiscent of Brett Booth, and each page really shines with the excellent coloring by Shawna Madd. Honestly, there’s no reason this comic couldn’t have been published by IDW, Action Lab, Boom, or any other indie publisher. Both in execution and promise, No Heroine deserves readers’ attention, and the creators involved all deserve their chance in the spotlight.
No Heroine #1 (Gogol, Madd, Madd) asks the question, "What if Buffy was a recovering heroin addict?" and lets the sparks fly from there! A wonderful, engaging self-published work, this comic and its creators deserve your attention!
INDIE WATCH: No Heroine #1: What If Buffy Was a Recovering Addict?
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 6.5/106.5/10
Color - 8.5/108.5/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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