Reviewer: Iain Burnside
Story Title: “Going Street to Hell”
Written by: Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca
Penciled by: Jim Rugg
Inked by: N/A
Colored by: N/A
Lettered by: N/A
Publisher: Slave Labour Graphics
The best thing about Street Angel is also, regrettably, the worst thing about it, i.e. the fact that hardly anybody has even heard of it yet. Reading each issue is like stumbling onto some underground rock band that consistently blow you away with each song before MTV comes along to corrupt them. It’s like tuning in to some late-night comedy show on TV and laughing your ass off long before all the catchphrases are stuck on lunchboxes and pencil cases the world over. This book is a golden discovery, the sort that comes along maybe once a decade if you’re lucky and just knocks you flat on the floor with a veritable gust of freshness. It really does feel great to be in for the ride from the very beginning, watching with disbelief as deluded people squander ten or even twenty times the cost of this one book to try and keep their complete collection of Batman or X-Men titles going even when nothing of any significance happens in them 90% of the time. Oh well, let’s just keep our fingers crossed that they will eventually learn their lesson with regards to this title if nothing else. We’re here to spread the word, even if it would make the book feel a little bit less personal.
In saying that, go and read my interview with the creators of Street Angel, Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca, from back in April.
The titular heroine of the title, Jesse Sanchez, is a fourteen year-old skateboarding expert who also happens to be a fearsome ninja that uses her powers to fight the evils of hate, greed and nepotism in the ghettos of Wilkesborough. The first issue introduced us to her world, the second issue flooded that world with every off-kilter concept possible, and now this third issue takes things in a completely different direction as flawlessly and as enchantingly enjoyable as it ever was. The basic plot is… a secret, really. It needs to remain unknown right up until the last page reveal of what happened after she called Jesus a m*@~#%%&^Ã‚Â£$r and then collapsed, lifelessly, to the floor of the church where she did battle with the mighty Demon Krigmore that wanted to take her as his (underage) bride.
If you want the whole story then you’ll just have to get yourself a copy. Here’s hoping hope that you do, for you will most definitely not be disappointed. It has been a long time since any single issue has concocted a page-by-page build-up of such breathtaking imagination and intrepid scope; all wrapped up in the juiciest tongue-in-cheek dialogue this side of Whedon. We start with a credits page that has Jesse playing chess with an evil giant squid, before delving into the story itself with an opening page of calm shots of Wilkesborough on a hazy Saturday afternoon, eventually settling on one of many cracked windows on a dilapidated building. We then turn the page and SMASH, Jesse is flung through the window by an unseen assailant and hurtles towards the ground as the broken pieces of glass form the name of the story itself. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the constant little things that prop up the artwork throughout this book to compliment the nightmarish storyline perfectly. Jesse’s fevered notions of sharks and demons are lurid enough to have been the results of the reanimated brain of H.P. Lovecraft, brought back to life by secret laboratory experiments of Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman in a Transylvanian castle on a stormy night. Even the simplest of introductory panels featuring the church or Father Johnson have an unsettling feel to them that recalls Eddie Campbell’s chilling work on From Hell. Throw in the same punk comedy style that you would expect to find in a Jim Mahfood book – such as the one-armed paraplegic, the Bald Eagle, trying to join in the fight – and you have one of the best all-round packages on the market.
All of this without even mentioning the superb writing, the great twist at the end that changes the entire complexion of the book, the wonderful back-cover (this month’s style is Gloom Cookie), the always entertaining Ninja Dojo (Kentucky bluegrass banjo lessons) and the fact that they have not one, but two e-mails from yours truly on the letters page! Okay, so they didn’t spell my name right but still… Now, go and check out the official website and join in on the joyride…
Did I just quote a Roxette song? Kill me now…