The Other Side of the Page: Books and Comics
Comic Review: Power Up #1
When I was a kid, I watched Disney like any other little girl, but I was raised on anime. Sailormoon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Fushigi Yuugi: these were MY princesses. Imagine my excitement when I heard a comic based on the magical girl genre was coming.
Power Up is written by Kate Leth (Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time: Seeing Red) and illustrated by Matt Cummings (Steven Universe, Bill and Ted’s Most Triumphant Return).
In issue one, we meet Amie. She works retail in a small pet store. Her boss calls her at the crack of dawn to bitch at her. When she gets to work, Boss Lady is demeaning, doesn’t trust Amie, and won’t let her speak for herself. She puts words in Amie’s mouth. When the pet store gets wrecked for a reason I’ll explain in a second, the manager doesn’t care for Amie’s wellbeing. She checks and makes sure the money is okay.
I’ve been there.
I’ve worked retail for ten years. I’ve had many different managers from different levels of corporate. The one I thought about most, though, was my last stint for a corporation. I enjoyed working for the company, but Amie’s manager was like reading my old store manager. All my co-workers were amazing but her. I had three cases of quid pro quo harassment against her that I never reported, because I don’t like confrontation. Neither does Amie. I worked many hours off the clock and got paid under the table. Sometimes I didn’t get paid. I got called on almost all my days off unless I was pushing overtime. God forbid I got overtime.
Retail’s hard, you guys. It’s a thankless job with long hours and almost no pay. The majority of my customers are AWESOME! But when you get those angry ones that’s blaming you for something out of your control, THEY’RE BAD! Now that I work in a locally owned business, I can really see how terrible of a situation I was in. It’s important to have a relatable character. With roughly 4.6 million Americans working retail jobs, that’s 4.6 million people who understand Amie. Sure, I relate to a lot of comic book characters. I’m like the love child of Clint Barton and Kamala Khan (yes, I know that’s weird. Shhhh!). Reading Power Up #1 has probably been the closest I’ve ever been to fully seeing myself in a comic.
Now, let’s get to the plot. Amie goes to work and is entrusted to watch the store. She gets hit with a light out of nowhere. The same beam hits a nearby goldfish. A mysterious black smoky alien guy shows up speaking a weird language. It’s up to Amie to defend the store even if she has no idea what’s happening!
In the issue, we see the other two players in this magical girl story. One is a mother named Sandy of two teenagers. The other is a male construction worker named Kevin hiding a sparkly wand and bow in his gym bag. If the cover holds true, Kevin is going to be a bearded dude in a sailor suit. I mean the Sailormoon type of suit. Not the Navy “anchors away, my boys,” type of suit.
This comic seems LGBT friendly too. I’m familiar with Leth’s writing, so I wasn’t surprised to see an adorable gay couple running the convenience store.
I can see where some people might not like the art style. You either do or you don’t. I think it’s adorable. It’s great seeing a full body woman as a magical girl. You can count that as another pro. Every character is unique even the minor ones.
My biggest problem with this is it’s super short. With so much set up in a small amount of time, I worry about this mini-series being six issues. We mostly got Amie in this one. Is issue two’s focus going to be Sandy or Kevin? And then issue three will be the third character? I’m unsure how they’ll get backstory, the source of their powers, a bad guy reveal, and equal balance with the characters in six issues. I hope this story does well for an ongoing comic.
Guys, go buy Power Up. It’s heartfelt, funny, and is only going up from here.
I give Power Up #1 8.5 laser beam shooting goldfish out of 10.