[WARNING: the comic being reviewed is not safe for work, or for small children or for those of weak constitution. Seriously. There's language here that could make a sailor blush, and does. Literally. It is hilarious though. So if cursing and "foul language" angers you, do not read further!]
What if there was a webcomic based on the premise “what if super-powered heroes were real?” What if the main super-heroine was a petite, foul-mouthed, capsacin-obsessed nerd grrl whose main super-power is causing apoplectic fits among authority figures? And what if one of those authority figures was the most powerful woman on Earth? Well, speculate no further, that comic is “Grrl Power” by David Barrack.
When I first saw an ad for this on another webcomic, I didn’t think much of it, mainly from the name. Then I saw a later ad which was more “pin-up” in nature and thought “oh, what the heck” and clicked on it. I tend to do that, which is why my site is kind of random. So, I click on the link and end up on “Grrl Power”, a comic about a girl named Sydney Scoville (Jr.!) and her adventures as a super-hero. As always, the best way to appreciate this comic is to go through the archive from page 1.
A disclaimer/rant/warning: On “bad” language. I know there are people out there who are offended by some words that people say. I know that some people like to say those words because they have nothing else to say, or because they want to deliberately shock or offend or anger someone listening. Well, over the years I’ve decided that I have complete control over whether or not certain words shock, offend or anger me. Therefore, if someone uses certain epithets or sacrilegious words where I can hear them, I can decide what their effect on me will be. Nowadays, I choose for them to have no effect.
I will not be offended, angered, and especially not shocked by “foul” language. Part of it may be just getting old and jaded, part of it may be learning different languages has taught me to look at words differently. For whatever reason, I have no problem reading or watching or listening to people swearing. However, I know that depending on the circumstances people will be angered at their use, and so in those circumstances, with those people, I don’t use those words. It doesn’t mean I approve or disapprove of their use, it’s that I don’t care for myself, and don’t want to offend others. That’s why I wrote the warning at the top of the page.
I mean this, if certain words offend you, and you know who you are and you know what those words are, do not follow any links in this review! You will be offended! Everyone else, enjoy!
Which leads me to the creator of this webcomic: David Barrack has a gift for swearing. I have seldom seen more creative curses, nor have I seen them used so hilariously and over-the-top. If you’ve ever wondered what Yosemite Sam might have been saying if he could have used real words in the Looney Tunes cartoons, you get the idea. Sydney has a hot temper even hotter than the absurdly spicy food she eats, and once touched off she doesn’t settle down until she runs out of energy or gets distracted. And, whatever you do, stay off of her “list“.
I like the way Mr. Barrack introduces us to the characters. Page 1 gives us the stereotypical “Superhero vs. Supervillian” fight, with the outrageously costumed characters slinging powers and snark at each other. After a page or so, it becomes obvious this isn’t a “normal” fight, because it breaks down into squabbling over whether a transparent force field is vulnerable to light-based weapons! It starts sounding like a bunch of kids on a playground, which we then see is actually a bunch of kids playing a superhero-based role-playing game, and we get to meet Sydney for the first time.
Of course with a prologue like that, what has to come next is the “senses-shattering origin” of our superheroine. Unfortunately, by the time we meet her again, she’s working at her mundane job as co-owner of a comic book shop, and she already has her “mysterious mystery macguffin” with no explanation of its origin or purpose. Not much shattering of senses, yet. But, as the archive runs on, we get to see more and more aspects of her personality, and we see how she copes with the everyday (and not so everyday) hassles of life: going to the bank, dodging evil sunshine rays, eating volcanic Thai food, and meeting a superhero during a bank robbery.
Another disclaimer: I like cute girls. I like cute girls with attitude. I really like cute girls with attitude that is well-deserved. Even though Sydney acts hyper and seems to border on ditzy, it’s only because she’s like a lot of ADD folks, she’s processing a lot of input very fast, following a lot of different threads, and makes statements that seem illogical as a result. It helps that she’s actually very smart, very well-read, and absolutely unafraid of consequences. She’s also very lucky, and having secret (at least through the first 80 or so pages) super-powers doesn’t hurt. Also, any girl that’s unafraid to say “yoink” or “blarg” when the situation calls for it, well she’s won my heart forever. Oh, and she also does a mean “Curly Howard” impression, too! (Google it, kids.)
So, all in all, I have to say this is one of the funniest web comics out there. Very few things nowadays can make me laugh out loud, for minutes on end, but “Grrl Power” has that, um, power. Mr. Barrack has a superb grasp of comedy timing, the pacing of the action is precise and controlled, and the absurdity exquisitely flows through the whole series like the smell of microwave popcorn in an office of cubicles. If you don’t mind language, you really should check this one out.