• Columns 

    Friday Recommendation: Minor Acts of Heroism

    By | July 29th, 2011
    Posted in Columns | % Comments

    In this installment of the Friday Recommendation, I’m going to go a bit of a different route. It’s been my niche to recommend superhero books starring that big blue Boy Scout, but while I thought about that, I ultimately decided to tell you guys about a fun little webcomic I stumbled upon via the social networking site Tumblr.

    Started by Adriana Ferguson and Kristen Van Dam, Minor Acts of Heroism is a an all ages comic, and the title is a play on words. It’s essentially about children who also happen to have superpowers and fight crime. They are Minors being heroes, but also limited by their age to fight “big crime.” Books like Teen Titans and cartoons like Young Justice are definitely an influence, but MAOH has grown its own voice in the crowded yet spacious world of webcomics.

    It’s quite easy to get lost when you’re one of the many sites promoting their own stories. But Ferguson and Van Dam have succeeded in finding a passionate audience who want to something that’s just a little different from the norm. To quote Ferguson from her Tumblr, they “really wanted to make a comic where everyone wasn’t white or a dude or a straight person.” And they succeeded admirably.

    It’s a clear intent to give a very specific audience a voice that is mostly overlooked in mainstream comics, while still proving that comics can star anyone of and gender, race, or sexuality and still be engaging for anyone who reads it. And since I hit the trifecta of demographics that Ferguson implied has been catered to for the entire time comics have been around (and she’s definitely not wrong), I can say that even straight white dudes can enjoy this. Heck, I showed this to my mom, who has an aversion to comics these days because of the adult nature comics can have (I’ve actually gotten her to read Bone and Tiny Titans, but that’s another article entirely), not to mention the continuity heavy storytelling, and she enjoyed it.

    The story stars three children, named Simon, Sergio and Nilus. Simon is a sidekick named Everywhere Kid, who teams with his stepfather Bradley, appropriately named Everywhere. Sergio is a new kid in town, recently adopted by his Uncle Julius, who happens to be close friends with Simon’s father. And later the trio is rounded out by Nilus, an Aquagirl of sorts who rules the kingdom of Atlantis as King. Yes, that’s right. She’s the King of Atlantis. This is very important to the story, and there is a fascinating reasoning behind it. It instantly makes her one of the most likable characters in the series, and there hasn’t been a single character I haven’t liked yet.

    And that likability comes from the chemistry of the characters. Ferguson and Van Dam, who co-write the series as well as share the art duties, have developed very clear personalities for the main characters and how they relate to each other. Simon is the hyper-active veteran sidekick, which reflects his teleportation abilities (which is shares with his stepfather, who is decidedly less hyper-active) while Sergio is the shy newcomer and is largely the POV character for the audience when it comes to learning about the new, and sometimes alien, world being presented to us in a weekly format. And speaking of alien, you can’t get much more alien than the character of Nilus, who we don’t know that much about. She’s still learning English; her culture has entirely different concepts of gender roles and government; and finally, she’s easily the most powerful of the three. She’s the very embodiment of the new world Sergio now inhabits. Up until the very last page of the third issue, which, in an attempt to not spoil, is Sergio’s entry into the world he’s only just now discovered. Finally you have the parents, Julius, who is a bit like Batman, lonely and dark, with a supernatural twist to him. That turns out to be a great twist, so I will definitely not ruin that for you perspective readers.

    Continued below

    The art, which as I mentioned before, is handled by both Van Dam and Ferguson, has a very unique style that merges both the signature western “superhero” look with the Japanese manga inspired look that you might find in Dragonball Z (just look at Simon and Bradley’s hair). The fashion even has its own voice, as the clothes are perfect representations of the personalities of the characters. From the heroic sidekicks to Nilus (who is decidedly NOT a sidekick, but has her own), to Julius and the villains you meet in issue 3. Everyone’s beautifully rendered and it’s polished enough that you might think it was published by a major studio like Image or Dark Horse. But it’s not.

    It’s done in the creators’ free time, which happens to be the only failing of the book. It doesn’t come out as much as I would like. I can tell you that I would read this book monthly if their schedules permitted. The world is so realized yet unexplored. Sine this is done in their spare time, it’s comes out at the pace of one page per week, which comes out to be roughly two issues a year. I was lucky enough to pick up the first two issues in print at WonderCon, as well as briefly talk to the two lovely women who created this great series, and I plan on picking up issue 3 as soon as I am able to. But even if you can’t pick up the books in print (for $2.99 at cons they attend or at the site, which works out to be about the same price as a hackneyed tie-in to some event du jour) it’s absolutely FREE if you desire to read it on the site. How’s THAT for cheap comics? And with three issues out, there’s not huge commitment just to catch up. You should read this NOW.

    Minor Acts of Heroism can be read at minoractsofheroism.com. Start from the beginning here.

    //TAGS | Friday Recommendation

    Gilbert Short

    Gilbert Short. The Man. The Myth. The Legend. When he's not reading comic books so you don't have to, he's likely listening to mediocre music or watching excellent television. Passionate about Giants baseball and 49ers football. When he was a kid he wanted to be The Ultimate Warrior. He still kind of does. His favorite character is Superman and he will argue with you about it if you try to convince him otherwise. He also happens to be the head of Social Media Relations, which means you should totally give him a follow onTwitter.


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