Review by Mary Sheridan
A Futuristic SciFi Heroine from Titanium Comics
What’s in a name? In the case of this recent release from Titanium Comics, “Death Raye” is an evocative description of a new SciFi heroine. She is fighting a far-future war that may decide the fate of this planet. On the cover, there is no mistaking the pose, the soldier-of-fortune garb, or the defiant look. Death Raye is a force to be reckoned with.
Maximo Rossi has written a welcome addition to the growing stacks of fem-centric comics. His world-building has the complexity necessary to sustain a title over the long-haul and he clearly shows us that certain aspects of society have not changed for the better in 10,000 years. Humankind is again embroiled in deadly warfare plus sexist behavior and gender abuse persist. It is protagonist Jeannie “Death” Raye who can make a difference, with the skills and attitude needed to smash cruel social miscreants into the same oblivion as sends her wartime enemies.
Reading Issue 1 creates hope that altering sexual stereotypes is part of the agenda for this series. Weaving through frequent displays of all-too-familiar male/female dynamics is the eponymous Raye, a tough, brash, and appealing heroine who seems unlikely to tolerate anyone or anything that strikes her as wrong. Rossi takes care to incorporate the social issues of the day into this early plot, and in doing so throws the doors wide open to establishing a strong new female character as comfortable challenging gender roles as she is the course of a war. She persists in the face of vulnerability and physical challenge and it would be a great disappointment if Death Raye’s potential for social importance goes unrealized in favor of yet another Amazonian warrior tale. The good news is that based on tone and content, it seems more likely that these books will avoid that worn-out path and cover new ground instead.
The Issue 1 story is ambitious, and at times, studying the artwork is imperative to understanding its complexity. From front cover to back each page displays colorfully smoky blends of character and environment in which artist Joe Zhenzhou creates very expressive, dynamic, and mood-setting imagery. He suggests slightly more than defines each character’s look, leaving readers to imagine details for themselves. Adding this elusive quality to the characters is not only quite beautiful, it also serves to increase audience involvement in the story, and as well, enjoyment of the artwork and story is facilitated by the absence of ad pages.
This good script and its visuals unfortunately alternate between helping and hindering each other. For example, there are moments when a reader may need to clarify the plot by pausing on the artwork. Lingering over the beauty of Zhenzhou’s imagery is both a blessing and a curse, sometimes resulting in distraction from the story rather than clarification. The balance between “show” and “tell” leans perhaps a bit too much toward “show” in this issue. For the reader, shifting more weight to the script in future issues combined with (I’m very sorry to say) slightly less painterly art could maintain better overall flow. As it is, Zhenzhou’s work can overwhelm the story rather than enhance it.
Death Raye is a comic title – and a heroine – with multi-layered potential. Interesting questions are raised about how our world could advance for so long and yet in many ways not progress at all. Throughout the book, Raye makes you wonder who she is and how she came to be that person. There is definitely plenty of room for good storytelling as this series evolves.
Besides, who can resist such a classic name for a modern comic book heroine?
Slow first read; enjoyable second read; very beautiful if somewhat distracting artwork.
Mature Audience: Explicit language, sexual situations, violence.
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Mary is a retired Registered Nurse who specialized in Trauma and Emergency medicine. She loves the space opera of Star Wars, most Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, and comic books. Mary can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog galacticmatters.