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‘Blackhand & Ironhead, Vol. 1’ HC (review)

Written and Illustrated by David López
Published by Image Comics

 

Blackhand & Ironhead was originally, I believe, a Spanish language webcomic. A few years back, my wife and I were hired to write a book on webcomics. While the research proved to be quite fun and eye-opening, the project was ultimately dropped when it became obvious that what was a big deal today might be dormant or gone by the time such a book was published and what was hot by then might not even have been conceived of as yet!

Today, there are thousands of webcomics out there and while a large number are not particularly outstanding, there have been a growing number of absolute gems in recent years! Blackhand & Ironhead by David López is one such gem.

While it tells a serious story there are enough lighthearted moments to make the book both exciting and fun.

Once again, the concept of superpowers in the real world is considered and once again it’s turned on its ear, only a different ear than the last time, or even the time before that. Come to think of it, there’s this freaky car in the story that flies and has two giant ears and…Well, that’s neither here nor there.

Here, if superheroes and super villains existed in the real world, they would have constantly been fighting and destroying property and people so at some point in the not too distant past, a corporation was created by a group of heroes roughly analogous to the JLA or the Avengers. It was arranged that all super-battles would be wrestling-style cage matches, gladiatorial spectacles that would entertain the populace. The corporation existed to regulate everything as well as to serve as a museum of the now-passed age of costumed heroes.

And so it went until one day when the man behind all this progress that changed the world, the retired superhero originally known as Ironhead, died.

He wasn’t fond of his young overweight daughter who had inherited his powers. Even wanted her to dye her red hair. That said, he left her the corporation. It was only at his funeral that she finds out she has a half-sister, the super-powered daughter of one of his former enemies with whom he had had a brief fling, a black woman known as the Blackhand.

The rest of the story deals with the new Ironhead and the new Blackhand, newly found sisters who develop an immediate animosity toward each other, as they slowly discover common ground upon learning that they have been lied to for their entire lives.

Alexia Ross, Ironhead, is a wonderful character, neither drawn nor written like any young woman I can recall ever seeing before in comics. She tries so hard to hold on to the truths she has believed since birth, even as they unravel in front of her, forcing her to grow up quickly in the face of seemingly endless tragedy.

If anything, Amy Camus, the Blackhand, who has both telekinetic and pyrokinetic powers, is even more visually unique—skinny as a rail, with a huge pile of brown hair weighing down one side of her head and the other side close-cropped and dyed green, with the word “NO” cut into it.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers since this 150+ page collection is loaded down with unexpected revelations and clever touches but let’s just say the heart of is watching the growing if reluctant bond between the two girls.

The concepts are new and interesting, the story holds the reader’s attention, the characters are familiar yet not quite, the dialogue is well-translated, and the art is a mixed bag of traditional and more modern effects and coloring, all essentially done up in pages that mimic the classic Sunday strip format.

What’s not to like?

Booksteve recommends!

 

 

 

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