A good friend of mine once cut her hair very short — in the manner of Winona Ryder in Alien Resurrection — and her then-boyfriend-now-husband's response was to say that it looked "interesting". It surprised me that they ever spoke again, let alone got married and since then — over a decade ago now — I've been wary of "interesting" for fear that it's less an adjective and more a veiled insult.
All of which is annoying because T'sao Wei's Windrush is rather interesting.
It's a superhero title, but it doesn't look like one, with a definite independent comics influence to the art — the cover in particular reminds me of something, but I can't place it; Daniel Clowes perhaps — and there's a mundane feel to the setting. Backgrounds are often based on photographic reference of bog-standard street corners, and there's little in the way of exaggeration in the storytelling and figure drawing. Even the villains' hideout seems to be a nondescript block of flats.
That said, there are a few more unconventional moments, such as Ned Zeppelin, a character with a humanoid squid/lizard hybrid body and a dirigible for a head, who lives in a bush in the local park. I'm also fond of the titlar character's uncle Henry, a man in a wheelchair and combat helmet who has the unfortunate habit of gesturing with his loaded assault rifle at his interlocutors during everyday conversations.
Windrush herself is a fascinating character. We discover that the protgaonist Lauren is not the original Windrush, instead following in the footsteps of her mother, and much of this first issue is spent establishing the relationship between mother and daughter. Lauren comes across as torn between worshipping her mother and having a desperate need to escape her shadow, a situation made more difficult by her mother's death in costume and Lauren's subsequent desire for revenge despite her mother's disapproval of such base motivations.
More tensions arise from a generational and cultural divide between the mother — a Chinese immigrant who never forgot her origins but also loved her new community — and her British-born daughter. The younger Windrush throws in a Chinese saying here and there and has learned much from her elders, but there's still a sense of her being isolated from the previous generations, of being pulled and stretched between the two cultures. This could all come across as heavy-handed, but Wei does a good job of tying it in with the mother-daughter and hero-sidekick relationships as an organic and complex whole. The result is a lead character of unexpected — given the genre — depth.
Tucked away at the back of the comic, Ned Zeppelin returns in a short strip written by Wei and drawn by Yusuf Supdarowa. It's a short piece in which not much happens, but Supdarowa's linework and storytelling are strong, and the character is such a wonderful visual that it would be churlish to complain too much about the bonus feature.
So yes, Windrush isn't a Nextwave or Walt Simonson's Thor type of comic, where it's all about audacity and bright colors and the wow factor. Instead it's something more like V for Vendetta: a bit more complex, a bit more low-key, a bit more, well, interesting.
You can order Windrush directly from T'sao Wei's Etsy store.
Kelvin Green erupted fully formed from the grey shapeless mass of Ubbo Sathla in the dark days before humans walked the earth. He grew up on Judge Dredd, Transformers, Indiana Jones #12, The Avengers and Spider-Man, and thinks comics don't get much better than FLCL, Nextwave and Rocket Raccoon. Kelvin lives among garbage and seagulls and doesn't hate Marvel nearly as much as you all think he does.