I will admit the only reason I initially volunteered to review this comic was the title. A lot of people don’t understand just how important a title is to a book. Besides the cover art, the title is the main thing that’s going to get you to pick up a book, especially if you are unfamiliar with the content, and “Fight Like a Girl” is a great title. In my own writing I’ll often start a new concept with just the title because it grabs me and speaks to me, begging me to pull out a story that does it justice. I wish I had thought of this as a title, because it’s so engaging that it forces you to pick it up and thumb through it.
Let’s look at what I liked about Fight like a Girl #3. I’ve already mentioned the title, but the concept of the story is just as great. On the outside it looks pretty cut and dry, a girl makes a deal with some immortal god types to save her ailing brother. To get her wish fulfilled, she has to undertake a total of nine challenges, sort of a modern version of Hercules. But the story is much deeper than that, because each challenge is really about Amarosa, the lead character, and self-discovery. The challenges that she encounters makes her take a closer look at herself and at the society around her, and how she fits, or doesn’t fit into it. The potential for great stories here is pretty boundless, so bravo to David Pinckney for coming up with a great imaginative take on the hero’s journey; Joseph Campbell would be proud.1
The art by Soo Lee is very simplistic in its rendering, but in truth, I think that’s exactly what you need for a story like this. The message that they are trying to get across is the real focal point, and just like the movie Fight Club when you have other things distracting from the message, you can lose track of it. (Have you ever listened, I mean really listened, to the dialogue in Fight Club? That movie is way heavy. I personally love the movie, but if Brad Pitt hadn’t been the co-lead, I think it would have helped people to see the story more clearly.) And when I say it’s simplistic, I don’t mean it’s bad. People who know me know that I don’t think there is any such thing as bad art, just different styles. The only thing that I think could be better in the art is the panel breakdowns. Most of the panels are straight-on shots, lacking dynamic angles to make the pages pop. I’d recommend that Lee take a look at some of the greats like Kirby, and my personal favorite, the late, great, Mike Parobeck.
Now let’s take a look at what I didn’t like. First, it’s hard to follow. I was dropped in at issue #3, and I had no idea what was going on. I had to go and look up other reviews on issues #1 and #2 to get myself up to speed. That’s annoying, but easily fixed. Granted, there are some explanations later in the dialogue, but it comes toward the end of the book. The explanations should come a little bit earlier to help grab the person that grabs the book off the shelf, and reads the first page or so, or the creators could do what a lot of Marvel books do these days, and start with a recap page right off the bat. Recap pages are not always bad, and in this case would have been extremely helpful. Another way of doing it would be to put in some captions of Amarosa’s internal dialogue. A book like this would really benefit by having some more directing captions to keep the reader on track. Some people disagree with this approach, but in a book that’s meant to be as deep as this is, it would be a better approach.
Another problem I have is that the action seems to be too deliberate. The encounter with the mysterious dude, that calls himself a star, could have been better played if it was all a mental game. The dialogue during their fight seems out of place, because it sounds like a teacher scolding a student. I realize the title of the book is “Fight like a Girl” but in this case the fight could have been strictly internal. Now this is just my opinion, and to others it might have come across just fine, but I really think Amarosa physically fighting this star guy was not necessary.
Lastly, I hate the breaking of the fourth wall this book uses. The book is trying to be serious. The issues it’s looking at are serious, and when the little faerie guy is talking to the audience (“The Reader”), it takes you out of the introspective mood the rest of the book is setting. If the book were trying to tell that story with action and tongue and cheek humor throughout, it might have worked, but I still think it just doesn’t fit.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I like a lot of what it’s about on so many levels, but the execution of it just seemed to have something lacking. It’s not the story, which is smart and intriguing all the way to the root. It wasn’t the art, because I think Lee’s style helps get the story across. The only way I can sum it up is the execution of the story on the page. Vague, I know.
All in all, I think this book will appeal to those who enjoy books that deal with the personal struggles we all have with life, and with the society we live in. Amarosa is on a journey of self discovery, one that requires her to hit things with a bat, but in the end it’s a book that deals with weighty subjects.
- Joe was the world renowned author and expert on mythology whose books The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth examine the spiritual journey that every human takes through the lens of mythology. Campbell’s work was a huge influence on George Lucas’ original Star Wars script. ↩