Review - Fight Like a Girl #1

"Her fate is up to us and his fate is up to her. Let's let it be and press forward."

The phrase "fight like a girl" is often used as a derogatory insult towards a man, insinuating that the man is fighting somewhat weakly and would only be evenly matched by a woman. There's another side to the phrase though, with the implication being that a woman who "fights like a girl" is actually fighting with great ferocity in defense of a cause deemed worthy of fighting for. Action Lab has made a name for itself offering up strong female characters, so it should come as no surprise that the publisher relies on the latter definition for their new book Fight Like a Girl #1. The issue is written by David Pinckney and illustrated by Soo Lee.

Standing before a jury of nine gods, Amarosa pleads for a chance to risk her life and gain entry to the Wishing Well where she will attempt to fight her way through and survive nine trials to claim her prize: a single wish that will save her terminally-ill brother. What ensues is a Hunger Games like competition where it's Amarosa against the world, where the world is represented by all sorts of crazy opponents.

Fight Like a Girl #1 more or less hits the ground running, as Pinckney seems content to get the core of the plot out of the way so that he can further explore the trials themselves. It definitely ensures the reader is fully aware of what Amarosa is fighting for, but the stakes if she loses are still really fuzzy. They're alluded to quite frequently as something pretty terrible, but Pinckney never explicitly states what they are; this is really effective for maintaining a tension throughout all of her upcoming battles. The world Amarosa lives in is curious as well, considering she approaches a panel of gods for the right to pursue this quest (the gods are a mishmash of religions as well, with Loki rubbing shoulders with Chronos and Fortuna).

Fight Like a Girl #1 boasts a pretty standard panel layout, but Lee's illustrations have an incomplete feel to them. That's not to say the work is bad, but Lee takes a very minimal approach to the art that eschews detail for more of a sketchlike quality. Backgrounds are embodied by seemingly harsh strokes and lines, all of which adds a dark pall over the book in general. Colors skew darker as well, making some of the action a little difficult to completely discern when comparing the character to the background. Even still, there's a kinetic energy to the fighting in the second half of the book that feels chaotic, really underscoring the true difficulty Amarosa faces in her first trial.

Fight Like a Girl #1 offers a unique premise in Amarosa's fight to save her brother. Fighting through the trials feels sufficiently harrowing, especially considering the stakes and the inclusion of a plethora of varying gods and goddesses. Pinckney's story capitalizes on the deism aspect, as the entire book has a certain detachment to it that fits with the concept of the gods observing. Lee's illustrations are somewhat simple yet gritty, relying on simple backgrounds and characters who mesh together to present a slightly more complex complete picture. Fight Like a Girl #1 offers a lot in the first issue that will pique the reader's interest as they follow along with her trials and delve deeper into her world.

Fight Like a Girl #1 is in stores November 26.