Strong Female Protagonist Book Two

Strong Female Protagonist Book Two
Strong Female Protagonist Book Two review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Top Shelf - 978-0-69290-610-1
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2018
  • UPC: 9780692906101
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

Alison was once a teenage superhero, but as she grew older she found less she liked about the parameters of that world, quit and went to college. Around her and others debate rages, and as an almost direct continuation of Book One, legislation is being enacted to regulate those with super powers.

Brennan Lee Mulligan took a while to get started, but eventually fed all kinds of social issues into Strong Female Protagonist, and continues to prod at consciences in the continuation, now in colour. A lot of ground is covered in an extended opening chapter. There’s rape in several forms, revenge killing, the viability of superheroes beyond punching out villains, and at what point artificial intelligence becomes sentience. They’re all laid out for discussion, and the way everything is pulled together after eighty pages is brilliantly achieved. Primarily, though, this is a superhero story about ethics spurred by discussions and conversations.

Molly Ostertag is a far more confident artist with a lot more under her belt than the person who began the first book, and her pages shimmer with the right doses of emotional energy while keeping clarity to the forefront. The angry portions are angry, the sad pages are sad and the euphoria is euphoric. In a book that constantly prods at what we think, it’s pleasing to note that there’s no objectification either.

The relationships we’ve seen Alison has, or those we know she has, are strongly built on as she chats with a number of people. Some conversations are extended too far in order to encompass some real world points Mulligan wants to put across, but the ethics are all interesting, as people justify their activities and desires. These are spliced with some nice analogies, such as the snowflake comparison on the sample art. However, nothing would transmit were it not for Alison being such an appealing character. There’s an element of the way Spider-Man started out as the geeky teenager unsure of his place in the world, but he’s long past that, and his ethical outlook only applied to the harsh life lesson learned about Uncle Ben.

Mulligan has an awareness of there being no easy answers, but in attempting to cover all bases he can slip dangerously close to satire. A gender discussion group isn’t among his best ideas. However, when he’s on form he’s thought provoking, moving and amusing, summed up together in an unusual consultation toward the end. People who enjoyed the simpler first book may feel this is too wordy and confrontational, so this progression isn’t going to be for everyone, but just like Alison herself, flawed as it is, it’s very likeable.

There is a cliffhanger ending, but despite promises of a hiatus rather than discontinuation, there has been no continuation since 2018.