Joining the ranks of kick-ass female assassins in books like Lazarus, Bitch Planet and Ladykillers comics Popova a female centric tale of a hitman (or should that be hit woman) looking to escape her former employers. But can this comic make the headshot or is it simply painting itself a target for criticism?
Publisher: Popova World
Writer: Dre Torres, Alex Valdes
Artist: Yasmin Liang (Illustrator), Kuen Tang (Letterer), Amin De Jesus (Design)
Price: $4.99 from popovaworld.com
Popova tells the story of Leila, a young woman living a happy life in a city apartment with fiance, Mark. However, what her fiance doesn’t know is that Leila hasn’t always been Leila, but Scarlet Rose, an assassin who once killed in the name of female equality but now, after faking her death, kills only to put money on the table. However, Leila/Scarlet soon finds that death is not the most fool proof way of leaving her past behind her when, upon returning home from a job, she finds an old ally in her home with only one demand; to return to her old life and speak with her old boss, ‘the Madame.’
Dre Torres and Alex Valdes have crafted an incredible, truly compelling story with Popova, built around a very thought provoking concept and an important issue far too often seen in real life. However, while the idea is a good one, it’s the execution which allows this issue to really shine. Torres and Valdes have built a plot which feels near flawless, with the story narrated in the first person by the lead and actually sounding like the character in question. In fact, the book’s real strength is that while introducing a half dozen characters, and despite their individual limited panel time, each one seems to have been imbued with incredibly distinct personalities. Of course, this isn’t it’s only strength because, along with strong characterisation, the story moves at such a balanced pace and you don’t know what to expect, that some twists, such as the opener in the restaurant, really come out of left field and surprise you.This story is a well executed piece of fiction, save for the police station scene which feels a little like filler. However, because it connects to the rest of an otherwise perfect tale, it’s easy to forgive and ignore.
But this isn’t what makes Popova really special because where the issue really shines is the with art style which Yasmin Liang implements almost pitch perfectly on every page. Starting with the opening two page title spread which looks gorgeous, Liang moves from page to page utilizing the monochrome scheme to an amazing effect, especially with the darker panels which really sell the dark, thriller aspects of the plot where needed like when entering the apartment. The real selling point of this artwork though is the facial features of the characters as they are incredibly detailed with every ounce of fear, concern and angry coming across to the reader brilliantly. Overall, Liang’s work is phenomenal, with it easily being compared to Walking Dead’s Charlie Adlard while the style itself is easily Babs Tarr crossed with Nicola Young, making the reading of Popova a genuine pleasure.
And then of course there is the cover logo, which tells you everything you need to know about this comic in one word. Special mention has to go to Clare Corfield Carr for this because, while there have been many great cover titles in comics, this one really looks like something special.
All in all, Popova is an incredible comic which is both terrifically written and amazingly drawn. With the absolute bare minimum of faults, Popova is a work of art in every sense of the word and deserving of high praise and large readership. After reading issue one, a second installment cannot come soon enough.