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Archive Binge- Strong Female Protagonist

G D Penman By G D Penman Published on November 25, 2015

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Strong Female Protagonist is a deconstruction comic about superheroes. It follows the story of Allison, the superhuman previously known as “Mega Girl” in a world where “bio-dynamic” people are a relatively new phenomenon that initially expressed itself in superheroes and villains but has now developed into something much more interesting. Allison has retired from superheroics to attend college, work as a firefighter and try to find permanent solutions to the world's problems rather than punching similarly powered people in the face for the rest of time.

As the story begins she is struggling to have her old allies accept her new identity, to deal with political and societal situations that she could force resolutions too. It is all quite fascinating and slow paced as we see how she deals with her day to day life, her new liberal aspirations and the way that people without powers treat her. Her fascination with social justice is obviously tied to her history and her attempts to move on to addressing world issues but she finds her attempts to move forward stymied in the same way that many young liberals find themselves brought to a halt. By the immovable block of the status quo.

Where the story really shines is when she begins to interact with her peers. She is a pariah to much of the superheroic community for her rejection of them but the few that she does deal with highlight just how much more people with powers can do than dress up in lycra and fight crime. Particular highlights include a telepath who quietly collects the greatest minds in a specific field and then pools their mental resources to solve some of sciences major mysteries, a regenerating woman who acts as an organ donor and of course an invisible woman who assassinates rapists who avoid justice.

The cold heart of the story is that every powered character is suffering from PTSD to some degree after their time as child soldiers, thrown into savage combat in what feels increasingly like a deliberately orchestrated clash between the "good" superhumans and the "bad" superhumans. How they respond to that in this new peace time is what makes them fascinating.

Any one of these characters and stories would have been a solid core concept for an entire story of its own but instead we intersect with them only briefly as we follow along Allison's journey to become more than her powers. The driving factor for her transformation is tied to a conspiracy that has been quietly removing superhumans with abilities that could dramatically alter the balance of world power. With this dark undercurrent appearing early on during a mandated physical exam when it is made clear that all superpowered breeding must be reported to the government. Every power that exists in the world of SFP is explored to its limits, both superhuman and illicit. When a character becomes a little too radical a shift from the status quo, they vanish and the reader is left to ponder just how much of the real world functions in exactly the same way.

I am usually inclined to tear down stories that exist only to play with the tropes of a genre. It is all too easy to take a world that somebody else has created and amplify elements to produce something that is very clever but altogether meaningless. Huge swathes of genre fiction have been repeats of the same stories over and over with minor variations received by their fandoms to massive acclaim. Strong Female Protagonist doesn't take the building blocks of the Superhero genre and construct another twist on the same tale. It makes an entirely new structure with the same parts.

Strong Female Protagonist is available online at:


G.D. Penman writes about queer monsters for a living. He is the author of Call Your Steel, The Year of the Knife, Heart of Winter, Apocrypha and many other books. He is also a full-time freelance ... Show More

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