An ancient cult and their army of demons has ripped Cassia Costa’s new home of Apex City out of our universe and cast it into darkness!
Written & Co-Created by Mat Groom
Illustrated & Co-Created by Erica D’Urso
Colored by Igor Monti
Lettered by Becca Carey
In the near future, Cassia Costa has moved to a new town, Apex City. A technology forward town with a bright outlook on the future. The only problem is is that an ancient cult has returned to wreak havoc with universe ripping effect. Which causes the return of Apex City’s own superhero, Inferno Girl Red.
The structure and format of issue #1 is one that allows readers to be quickly caught up and understand the characters and the world that Mat Groom (“Ultraman”) and Erica D’Urso (“The Mighty Valkyries”) have created. Cassia and her mom are moving to Apex City, and her mom lived there when she was younger. As Mom is telling Cassia about life in the city, and this fantastical encounter with monsters and Inferno Girl, her story is allowing us to see these past events, as well as a better grasp on how this all works.
It’s a really well done back and forth of this timeline that is cute, exciting, and wholly captivating. Because we are getting a recounting of this event from an eyewitness who is playfully talking about it with her teenaged daughter, there is nothing dry or overly serious about it, even when she gets to the more harrowing parts. She talks about I.G.R. throwing out quips and kicking ass and looking super cool while doing it.
Groom’s scripting is dense, but conversational. The characters talk like real people, shifting between drawn out thoughts and quick replies. There is a natural way of speaking that can sometimes be forgotten in fantasy and science fiction comics. Groom, keeping things snappy, never ventures too far into the realm of heavy information download, but he also doesn’t allow the dialogue to be nauseatingly meta, or poaching the lightning fast likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Gilmore Girls. The tongue is gently making its way towards cheek, rather than firmly planting it in place to eye-rolling effect. These are completely likeable people with a good relationship that makes it easy to stay with them in the same location for the first 17 pages of this 60 page behemoth of a premiere issue; and that’s just for starters. We are introduced to quite a few characters and locations throughout the issue and while we get plenty of snark and over-the-top villainy by the time we get to the end of this chapter, it’s a wonderful experience from start to finish.
Things are kept light while still playing into ideas like fate and the weight of decisions made. This is also a comic that borrows from and plays with the ideas and motifs from many, many past superhero, sci-fi, and fantasy stories throughout any number of mediums. It is dripping with the hero’s journey and passing of the torch themes. Groom and D’Urso have created a classic battle between good and evil that is still plenty of fun to read. It may wear its influences on its sleeve, but it never gets tiresome. I couldn’t help but be reminded of things like Ultraman, Sailor Moon, “Green Lantern,” or even something unexpected, like Ben 10. Whether all intentional or not, these and other similar properties are clearly imbedded into the DNA of “Inferno Girl Red” and it is absolutely welcome. There is no ripping off here, there is homage baked in with fresh and fun writing with a twist.
These characters exist even after you have turned the page. This world is all lived in and they all have their own voice and personality. This never feels like the brain or mouth of just one being spreading its tendrils to allow a roster of nobodies to walk around and take up panels. The dynamic between Cassia and her mom may be one of the best unexpected elements of the whole thing and I hope there is plenty more of that to come in this series. While this story fits perfectly in with any number of other Y.A. adventures, the talent at hand is what allows it to stay above the seemingly endless throng of mediocre works and will have something within its pages for nearly anyone.Continued below
D’urso’s illustrations range from cute to electrifying. The design language is clear and perfectly executed. She has created a completely understandable near-future look that feels very much like our own world, just a few steps ahead of where we are now. The technology and some architecture is heightened, but is believably integrated just like our tech of today. Nothing about it is obnoxiously pervasive or gets too abnormally futuristic. The action sequences perfectly sum up a blend of superhero and alien invasion. It’s a fun blend that, again, still feels very much of this world that has been built. Working with colorist Igor Monti, the art is explodes from the page. Each panel is a delight to look over. Bringing it all to life in ways that took me by surprise, this art team allows things to range from an endearing realism to thrilling sci-fi adventure from one moment to the next. Some of these moments are given such an incredible amount of depth and style that it truly feels as though you could fall right into it and get thrown into a far off corner of the galaxy. It is quite astounding and something that readers may not pick up on at first glance, but I assure you it is all there and it adds layers to this book both within the story and proving just how talented those working on it truly are.
“Inferno Girl Red” may be one of the biggest surprises of the year and it is a incredibly fun way to kick it off.
Final Verdict: 8.0, A great sense of comforting familiarity with some fresh twists and wonderfully crafted characters makes for one of the most enjoyable new comics this year.