Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Helen Killer

Review by Roman Stadtler

Well, here's some words I never anticipated writing: Helen Keller, as a super-human government agent, is a actually a good comic! Yeah, I know, I can't believe it either.

Helen Keller is given a device by Alexander Graham Bell that lets her see and hear, gives her super-human strength and agility, and an intense violent aggressiveness (or is it repressed anger about her disabilities, given a fantastic outlet/manifestation?), becomes an agent for the U.S. government to protect Prez McKinley, and finds she can also perceive more than anyone guessed. It's a fantastic premise, with sci-fi elements and Victorian mystery, that holds great promise.

I've never read any biographies of Keller, but the writer of Helen Killer, Andrew Kreisberg, has, and it shows. He's done his research, and there's good representations of Keller contemporaries like Bell, McKinley, Annie Sullivan (Helen's teacher), and real historical events, like the McKinley shooting. There's a nice text piece of historical factoids at the end of the first two issues, providing more items of interest to history geeks like me (oh no, I don't limit my geekiness to just comics!).

Keller is presented as intelligent, politically and socially savvy, independent and free-thinking, just as she was in real life. She's shown as not trusting the invention that gives her sight, because she doesn't trust the intensity of the feelings that accompany it, and, perhaps, because it could somehow lessen the achievements of her life up to that point.

There's plenty of dramatic tension around Helen's relationship with her teacher, Annie, and the way Helen's new abilities and role changes their relationship; Helen's own emotions and inner life (given form, perhaps? A mystery abounds....); and a possible romantic interest(?); plus a larger Evil afoot.

Plenty of action, too, though that wasn't as interesting to me as the actual characterizations and solid storytelling in what I expected to be just another crappy "hot chick kickin' ass" book. The art is better than the average low budget indy book. There was one ridiculous acrobatic bit using an American flag in the second issue, but that's the only complaint I have in the entire first two issues! Check it out!

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