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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Street Angel, The Princess of Poverty. Jim Rugg (Words & Art), Brian Maruca (Words). SLG Publishing. (2005)

Of all the possible directions creators Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca could have taken a story about a homeless twelve year old skateboarding, martial arts master, Jamie "Street Angel" Sanchez the ones they choose are extraordinary. There is a warm compassion for Jamie Sanchez, she is a homeless child, struggling with the pressures of poverty, hunger and school and she is an action hero with wit and verve. Neither aspect overwhelms the other, the balance is natural and deeply affecting. The book is a riot of creativity with stories that spin and branch off in the most unexpected directions, laced with humour that is black as night. There are ninjas, deadly geologists and Inca sun gods mixed in with the first Irish Cosmonaut and a wereshark. The skewering of superhero and action comic story ideas are vivid and spot on. At the same time they are presented with such force and attention to detail that they work entirely on their own merits as action pieces that would be a highlight in any action orientated comic. The range of the stories is a great, from Jamie's rescuing the mayors daughter from a madman with a plot to reunite all the continents to a fight with a demon in a church, aided somewhat by Jesus, to simple search for food, not to mention time travelling pirates. They are neatly mixed character pieces with explosive action pieces.
The changes in tone and pacing that underline that Street Angel the action hero is also a homeless girl are achieve with subtle skill so that are not a grinding change of story gears, they flow seamlessly into each other and give the stories significant weight and depth. The glowing black and white art is easy to read, it is expressive and captures the absurd and the mundane with wonderful craft, in particular is gives Jamie an inner life that makes her jump off the page. A great comic.

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