September 2005

Karin L. Kross


100 Girls: The First Girl by Adam Gallardo

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dark Angel. Veronica Mars. Lately, it's been all about teenage girls who kick ass -- Nancy Drew with karate lessons, or supernatural powers, or cool camera equipment, or some combination thereof. In the comics world, we've got Josh Howard's Dead @ 17, and now Adam Gallardo and Todd DeMong's 100 Girls.

The first four issues of 100 Girls have been collected in the new volume The First Girl, which introduces the protagonist, Sylvia Mark. Sylvia is one of a hundred super-powered female clones -- each with their own unique power -- and one of a handful who were kidnapped from the laboratory where they were created. After a school tussle goes very badly indeed, thanks to Sylvia's super-strength, she goes on the run, pursued by the agents of the scientists who created her.

Todd Demong's artwork in 100 Girls is particularly good; stylized and angular, with little exaggerations that enhance the characters' expressiveness. There's nothing muddy or hard to follow, and the action is well-paced. It's also refreshing to see teenage characters that don't look like supermodels; the Sylvia and the other Girls are a little gawky, a little plain, and rough around the edges, like most thirteen-year-olds.

The writing is solid as well; the dialogue is crisp and often funny. Sylvia is an engaging -- if precocious at times -- thirteen-year-old; if there's any complaint about her characterization, it's that she adapts a little too quickly to the sudden bursts of ultraviolence that interrupt her previously staid (by adolescent standards, anyway) life. She is exceptional, of course, but she doesn't seem quite as shaken by, say, breaking the necks of mutant hounds as a suburban girl with a hitherto average upbringing might be.

Then again, we are operating in the Girls Kicking Ass genre, and part of that is accepting that our heroine is going to start pounding the bad guys sooner rather than later. It does help that Sylvia is a fun character to follow around; her supporting cast is also strong. Especially notable is the creator of the Girls, Dr. Tabitha Carver, who could have easily been a cardboard Evil Scientist; in her own way, she loves the Girls, and is trying to do what she thinks is right. She's drawn as an attractive femme d'un certain age, a rarity indeed in most SF/superpower comics.

The 100 Girls story is ongoing; issue 5 is available in stores, and issues 6 and 7 are slated for September and October. So if you've been missing Buffy since the series ended, you should be able to get a good fix of teenage-girl-fu from 100 Girls.

100 Girls: The First Girl by Adam Gallardo
Arcana Studio
ISBN: 097630953X