Creating a superhero with original powers is no easy task, but in Sam Johnson’s Geek Girl: volume 1 Lightning Strikes we get a new twist on superpower acquisition, as college girl Ruby gets powers via some high tech glasses which she wins from a pair of nerds in a game of strip poker. But will these high-tech gadgets allow her to see clearly to end up short sighted in her pursuit of her goals.
Publisher: Markosia Enterprises
Writer: Sam Johnson
Artist: Carlos Granda
Price: £3.99 from ComiXology
Having acquired her powers via seductive means, and taken on the mantle of Geek Girl Ruby attempts to join the ranks of heroes like Neon Girl and Pitbull in her home town of Acorn Ridge Maine. However while out on patrol she encounters a lightning powered super villain who is taking out the established heroes (with a little help from the clumsy Geek Girl) which means it’s up to Ruby to save the day.
Geek Girl is a slice of light and frothy superhero action that is a lot of fun to read. It’s quite self aware without being too snarky and the concept of high tech super powers that are acquired via technology, allows for interesting plot developments – including the idea of transferring the powers to someone else without some convoluted process. This first volume is a mix of origin and debut adventure and while it doesn’t offer anything startling new to either it’s a fun read, packed full of good ideas and well thought out scenarios.
As with a lot of indie superhero books, part of the fun is seeing how writers attempt to reimagine these well established tropes for different characters and scenarios, and Johnson does a solid job of building his world. It reminded us of everything from Powers (with it’s damaged lead female heroine) to Savage Dragon (with it’s eclectic roster of weird villains) and the artwork from Carlos Granda is slick and polished, making the whole thing feel like a more than just your average wannabe Big Two book.
Geek Girl saves the day
While Granda’s artwork looks great, one of our major critiques is the character design. Ruby’s costume features too much heaving cleavage and tight and shorts for our liking. The whole thing ends up feeling like a J Scott Campbell book from the 90s, like Danger Girl or Gen 13, and makes it into a bit of a throwback as a result (and not in a good way).
The only other major negative is that although it has an all-female cast – which is great – the characters are also quite shallow. Especially when compared to strong female characters like Ms Marvel or Molly Danger. Ruby’s friends seem to spend a lot of time bitching about each other rather than having meaningful conversations and an unfortunate side effect of the geek girl powers is that she becomes ‘less hot’ and a bit awkward. This is the polar opposite to male super heroes like Clark Kent, Peter Parker or Steve Rogers, and is not the most empowering of attributes for a female character.
If you take all this out of the equation then Geek Girl: Volume 1 Lightning Strikes is still a very enjoyable read, which revels in the daftness of the superhero genre. The artwork is strong and the concept solid, but could do with a bit of depth adding to the lead characters and a touch of irony or realism added in relation to costumes and character for it to really stand out from a very crowded market.