Model Operandi: Affair of the Heart

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Back in the day, I was a big comics fan, but have largely ignored the medium since coming to America in 2000 [there are still two large, unopened boxes in the hallway closet!] I think it’s perhaps the Scot in me coming out: graphic novels are an expensive way to pass an hour or so. Props first, therefore, to Caramagna and Budd, for keeping the cost of their first issue to an extremely reasonable price The story therein centers on the theft in France of a priceless diamond, the Heart of Josephine, and the quest of supermodel Legsy Diamond and Ann Lezbee, the implausibly-bosomed Special Ops Presidential Intern, to retrieve it.

Perhaps the biggest weakness is this storyline tries to cram too much in. As well as the search for the diamond, we also have Legsy’s family background, inter-model agency rivalry, her boss’s previous intrigues, a relationship with an investigating cop, and so on. While this sets up many potential storylines for future issues, it does feel somewhat heavily laid-on, and I tend to feel that less would be more. They’re going for an almost-Alias level of complexity, but twenty-plus hour-long episodes gives you much more scope for exposition than 88 pages, especially in an action-oriented title like this.

That said, the artwork rocks. Bright, crisp, colours mesh perfectly with bold lines, and capture the pop aesthetic delightfully. Every page is the kind of work which deserves to be framed and hung on the wall – though occasionally is perhaps a little too breast-fixated for me to really appreciate it! [I read it in the canteen at work, and felt a little uncomfortable doing so now and again 8-)] Style-wise, I was reminded a bit of the Adam Warren Dirty Pair comics, and that’s pretty high praise since I do have a page of art from that hanging on the wall here. I’m certainly looking forward to future editions, and this first issue is something any action heroine fan should check out.

Available now from AHP Comics, 88 pages, $5.99
Words and Ink: Joe Caramagna
Pencils and Colors: Dennis Budd

Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior

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“Into every third generation, a slay..ah, warrior is born.”

It’s kinda sad to say, but the action in this Disney TV movie kicks the ass of, not only most TV shows, but a credible number of Hollywood films. Then again, behind the fights here is Koichi Sakamoto, who is also responsible for Drive, among the best American martial-arts films of all time. And while obviously “Disneyfied”, this is still sprightly and engaging, with a couple of very decent fight sequences. It is, however, extremely influenced by Buffy: an unwilling heroine (Song) destined to face down evil on the night of a major school event, under the care and tuition of a mysterious guardian? Joss Whedon should have a word with his lawyers. However, the Chinese cultural twist is nice, not least the Shaolin Soccer riffs, though neither lead actually is Chinese.

This does pose problems, the film trying hard to be culturally “sensitive”; Wendy struggles between wanting to be a “normal” American girl, and her Chinese heritage. This is clunkily handled and does drag the middle of the film down, as the whole Homecoming Queen plot-thread is simply not very interesting, and adds nothing of significance to the film. Things do perk up again, when her teachers get taken over by monk spirits, to assist with her training. It then heads to the finale in a deserted museum where Wendy and her “watcher”, Shen (Koyamada), must face an possessed-schoolmate and a host of terracotta warriors. I stumbled on this by accident, in an advert break during a baseball game on a neighbouring channel, and enjoyed it, despite being about three times the target audience’s age. Some more action would certainly have been preferred, but between this and Kim Possible, Disney have as good a claim to being the home of action heroine TV as any channel.

Dir: John Laing
Stars: Brenda Song, Shin Koyamada, Justin Chon, Andy Fischer-Price