Grrl Power


URL: www.grrlpowercomic.com
Creator/s: David Barrack
Run: 8/10-current
Schedule: Mondays
Section/s: Ch. 2

Website: It's got a slick, consistent design, with various aspects of the site all having gray gradient backgrounds. The site also has a small banner, instead focusing on showing randomized images of the comic's main characters. This seems like a great way to present a webcomic that has a large cast. There are a fair amount of ads and vote buttons, but they're at the side and bottom of the page, so they don't clutter up the layout as much as they do in some sites.

Grrl Power really excels at its character bios, and it has a great feature where each page gives some basic information on each character who's present in that particular page. The actual cast page is also very appealing, showing cool "score card" thumbnails that open up into Javascript pop-ups when clicked on.
The comic has a Facebook page, a Google+ page, a Twitter account, and a forum, so there's ample opportunity for interaction, and the Archive page is probably one of the most user-friendly I've encountered

Lastly, I'd prefer to see the comic's fan art put in its own section, and the creator should try to add more bonus content to the site.

Writing: I've mentioned a few times that the Web isn't an ideal medium for superhero comics, and the creator of Grrl Power seems fully aware of this problem, as he throws in a few twists to try to make his superhero concept work.

The protagonist, Sydney, is sorta like Spider-Man or Green Lantern in that she's a fairly normal person who suddenly gets superpowers from a freak occurrence. The twist's that she's not actually all that normal, as she suffers from an extreme case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Instead of trying to depict Sydney's ADHD in a realistic manner, though, the creator uses it as an excuse to have her constantly behave like a super-wacky, semi-retarded 6-year-old. The chapter's filled to the brim with Sydney's random humor, giving her tons of dialogue even though she acts oblivious towards what the other characters are doing and saying. About halfway through the chapter, I realized I was actually subconsciously skipping all of Sydney's dialogue, as everything she says is just an unfunny joke. She would've been much better off as someone's goofy sidekick instead of being the main character. Also, how come there isn't more resistance towards letting her join the superhero group when she seems like she's one sugar rush away from seriously hurting somebody, or even destroying a major city? If I were one of the comic's superheroes, I'd be more worried about Sydney than about any supervillain.

The pacing's unbearably slow, as the comic's cast spends almost 30 pages standing around in an empty room listening to Sydney whimsically explain her various superpowers. It's gotta be the most glaring example of an exposition dump I've ever seen in a comic. There's no doubt that part of the problem's that the creator tries to cram joke after joke after joke into every page, constantly derailing his attempts to get any actual information across. And despite the obnoxious amount of exposition in this comic, I never even got an inkling of what the overarching story's actually supposed to be about; at more than 100 pages in, the plot should be fairly well-developed by now.

The other twist's that the comic's superhero team's almost all women, and aside from Sydney's humble appearance, the comic wastes no opportunity to show its audience boobs, boobs, and more boobs. Superheroines in print comics are known for being overly sexualized, but Grrl Power takes it a step further, having a cast that includes a succubus, a character in a sexy French maid's costume, and a character with multiple bodies whose superheroine alias is Harem. It regularly devolves into a perverted gag comic, featuring such subjects as sticky cleavage, women joking about how slutty they are, women comparing their boobs, and a woman laughing as a guy rubs his face in her cleavage. These jokes are always misses, and they come across as a halfhearted excuse to draw extra attention to a character's boobs, or to show a character groping herself.

Lastly, with a title like Grrl Power, a prominent character who's described as a "rabid feminist" in her bio, and the occasional feminist subject matter, it's somewhat jarring how shamelessly the creator can objectify his characters at times, with the bottom-left panel here being a notable example. And in that page, Mr. Amorphous' lipstick marks are damning for both women -- Maxima looks bad for lacking subtlety, and Heatwave looks bad for losing interest in Maxima's transgression so quickly. Then, in the closest thing the comic has to a fight scene, the superheroine Anvil gets humiliated by a guy who doesn't even have any superpowers. It's clear that every woman in the comic's a sexy airhead, with the exception of Dabbler, who's competent at seducing people, and Sydney, who isn't sexy.

Art: In the comic's About page, the creator explains his motivation for the project, writing, "I thought I could keep my interest up if I was drawing well packaged hot women all the time." While his illustrations might not have much artistic value, he's gotten extremely good at drawing his favorite subject. As a major bonus, though, he also does a great job of rendering the cartoonish Sydney, who looks like she popped out of a Sailor Moon fanfiction or something. I imagine very few webcartoonists could put together such incongruent styles and make it work as well as the creator does.

Drawing porn would probably be a walk in the park for the creator, but if I were a publisher considering hiring him to illustrate a superhero comic, my biggest reservation would be how skilled he is at drawing action scenes. The few fights in the chapter are all very brief and very silly, with the most interesting fight, which is the one between Dabbler and Maxima, literally only lasting one panel. Dabbler's fight with Sydney's about the same length, and Math spends more time posing than he does actually fighting with Anvil. I get that Grrl Power's supposed to be more slapstick than other superhero comics, but I'm sure the creator could've found a few pages here or there to add a decent action sequence, especially considering how much of the story's just random jokes.

Overall: The creator's an insanely talented artist, and he could be a much bigger name in webcomics if only he'd let someone else -- anyone else -- take over the writing duties for him. In Grrl Power, boobs are the setup, punchline, and main character, and while this approach might attract an audience of sex-deprived fanboys, I expect they're less interested in the dialogue and plot development than they are in the characters' cup sizes.

3/5

9 comments :

  1. I have read this before, though not recent (I read comics in cycles, go from one to the other to catch up with the updates). What drew me to it was the story of a complete a total loser becoming a superhero. A story like this naturally spews out humor, but it should never reach the point where it feels like the story is being sacrificed (which the comic falls pray to at times).

    Also it sometimes feels that the story has not only been sacrificed, but dragged down because of the jokes. Events that should only take a dozen pages took several dozens. When I last left off, they had only just gotten to the news conference that would introduce the main character to the public.

    This comic has genuinely great potential, I just hope it has reached it when I get back to it in my reading cycle.

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    1. Barrack seems to be a lot more focused on drawing titties and making lame jokes than actually telling a story.

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  2. From what I actually saw in the comic was mostly just stereotypes, nothing from the form of real actually people mostly on the lines of "OOK ME GIRL. YOU BOY. YOU WEAK." format. Yes they are superheroes with incredible powers but where in gods green earth have you ever see heroes actually treating anyone like crap or matter of fact slamming their fist on the table every time you turn around.
    We get it dude, you are trying to make a badass super hero chick team and with some guys. But please mind that you know this is not how real people interact or treat their team mates any form. Of course I am talking about the yellow skin and blue hair super hero. (haven't seen this comic for a while now so bare with me) she's brash, and when i read her bio. She basically believes that men are scum...ooookay...how she is even working with the United States of America? Or how did she even became a higher up captain rank? By just blowing them all away with her super powers? No. When you are on a team or a squad in the army you have to trust one another, or show at least some respect. She does not. She constantly belittles anyone who doesn't have a vagina. Not only is this misandry but its a smack in the face towards any male civilian who needs to be saving. I could go on but i think i made enough mess of my crappy word play.

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    1. The comic would've been better if the superheroes did superhero stuff. All they did was act slutty and goof around.

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  3. They actually got to do a fight since's the review has been posted and it`s quite a big one, so there's that to know. Also I feel like this comic is a bit more about the practical, how are they gonna fit superheroes into society rather than classic superhero stuff. I do agree that the ADHD part is a bit abused, but I think it's also that Sydney just never really matured, as in she never really got to the part "I'm an adult and therefore must act responsibly" and never had trouble because she just wasn't important.

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  4. Skipping the Sydney moments means you are actually missing a good part of the story itself. Sydney is a comic reader and has as many insights on how to handle a situation as she does misses. One Maxima and Sydney scene was a pure deconstruction of how supers fight and how someone should watch where and how they use their powers. Yet another offering was a question from Sydney about why would someone with tank and blaster abilities carry a handgun. Displayed simply by Maxima showing how she can blast a target with a bolt from her finger then pointing at Sydney who thought she as pointing AT something. Then Maxima drew her gun and Sydney was worried about the 'weapon'. A clean clear deconstruction of the issue. And if you had read the interview scene you would know Sydney was recruited because her ADHD meant she might have a destructive melt down and with training they could prevent or at least minimize the damage.

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    1. What do you think about the changes between Chapter 1 and Chapter 2?

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  5. Heh, the funny thing is that the author/artist actually _has_ done porn in the past. Still is, I believe, under a different handle.

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