Fearless Dawn: Review

In this day of worldwide internet communication and advances in publishing, the small press comic industry is more vibrant than ever. This climate is perfect for a comic like Asylum Press’ Fearless Dawn, which is a pulpy, fun, tongue-fully-in-cheek romp. This book contains everything a growing geek needs: Nazis, giant frogs, humor, attitude, and scantly-clad women… it’s all here.

Steve Mannion writes and illustrates Fearless Dawn, and does a rather good job at both. While the art slumps at times, when it’s good, it’s really good. It is clear that Mannion is incredibly talented, but there are sometimes that the art just feels phoned in. I understand that sometimes it’s a playful little style exaggeration or a choice on his part, but there are other times when it feels that the art may have been rushed. This is especially true for a large portion of the second issue. Maybe it just becomes more obvious because the drawing is otherwise amazing.

The art can be cheesecake at times, with both the heroines and villains wearing tight, revealing clothing. It’s also never the wrong time for the women in the book to strike a pose that reminds you they’re still women. While some may frown upon this sort of illustration, I personally feel it’s done with a playful pinup style that makes it almost childlike and innocent. For nearly every panel of a girl bent over showing off her curves, there’s another of her sitting with her legs sprawled out and feet cocked like a tomboy. I honestly find it a fun fit with the tone of the storytelling and doesn’t come across as exploitative, but rather endearing in a way.

The story itself comes off as a strange mash-up of ’40s pulp, Tank Girl, and modern dark comedy. I hate to make the comparison to Tank Girl for fear that some might think it a knock-off, which isn’t the case. Sure, it has a sassy and mouthy girl that isn’t afraid of a fight, but that’s not a trait unique to any one comic.

The time period and lore of the universe are never explained in the comic, but it really doesn’t need to be. Why are there Nazis in Canada conducting experiments with a super-soldier drug that turns them into ravenous monsters? Who knows? In the long run, it doesn’t matter. They are there now and it’s time for Fearless Dawn to deal with them! So she hops on her jet and takes the fight to the Canadian Nazi menace with the help of her friends.

Over the course of the four issues, our heroes fight Nazis and giant atomic frogs, and reveal the inner workings of reality show television stars. No really, I’m not making that last one up, and no, I won’t spoil it for you. All I will tell you is, at times, it had me laughing out loud because the story is truly absurd in the most wonderful way.

My only real complaint is that the run is too short. Rich characters and a clearly deep story universe like those presented in Fearless Dawn would greatly benefit from being a regular ongoing series with a consistent publication calendar. When it was all said and done, I just wanted to see where Mannion would take it next. I know this is a character that he has used in multiple books and shows up in his work frequently, but I would love to just have a year or two of just this story coming from the same publisher.

Overall, this limited series is a fun little number that has clever writing and art that, at times, is truly amazing, but other times, slightly uninspired. I would recommend it to anyone that is a fan of slightly raunchy camp, or is looking for something that isn’t modern comic book trope from The Big Two.

[xrr rating=4/5]

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