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Writer/Artist: Steve Mannion    

Asylum Press 2023

THE AGE OF GIRL POWER is upon us. Questing girls and women out to be heroines swarm the media waves, often making good alternatives to standard superhero themes, though often these heroines have awesome powers of their own. This is not the case for heroine Fearless Dawn. She is just … questing. Kind of a power, like an animator in an old Greek drama, keeping everyone moving. Her boss follows along in a car to pick her up later. No sense trying to stop her.

When FEARLESS DAWN, THE BOMB by writer/artist Steve Mannion came into my haunt at Future Dreams comic shop in 2023, I had not seen her before. Turns out she has been around a decade or so. Silly me for missing her.

The villains here are an ugly type I usually do not allow in the house, featuring racial slurs for German soldiers, who are depicted as half-cadaverous monsters, hulkng men, and made-to-be-sexy-but-not women in war uniforms, and of course monster scientists, monster machinery, and just to kick it up a notch, monster dinosaurs (which, OK, I do allow those). Fearless Dawn runs around trying to stop them from succeeding in their dastardly plans. It is not necessarily her job. She just feels strongly about it.

This is where the bomb comes in. Fearless Dawn episodes have been coming out in periodic burps over the years as one-shots that make a sort-of coherent series. I don’t know her whole story, but I did see a little while ago she was caught in a firefight, and her own side, following orders, dropped a bomb from a plane on the battle scene. Fearless Dawn was a victim of friendly fire. Collateral damage.

We learned later she survived, and lies in a hospital somewhere. While she recovers, “The Bomb” tells her origin story, along with other short tales, very comical and alarmingly cute. This is apparently a selection of dreams drifting through her coma state. The title is a four-issue series, so we can see what happens when she wakes up, if of course, she does wake up. More likely, she will be off questing again without a clue, and never be woke.

The humor is perpetually bright and clever, the cartoonish black-and-white art is sharply lit and vibrant. The art slides into movement whenever one lingers to watch.

Sexy poses are expected, and delivered, though in an awkward cartoon style more laughable than titillating. Flirting with the audience is one of the jokes. “So you wanna piece of this?” Fearless Dawn challenges when the story opens. Occasional corners and scenes with lubricious intent are masked in symbolism, cartoonish innocence, or by a roused guard blocking the view.

In the end Fearless Dawn swings on a rope in her new outfit, trimmed to fit, ready to gleefully “live a life of action and adventure, my true calling …,” while a voice from her younger self tells her to remember prudence. Clearly that advice never stuck. Hero or clown, Fearless Dawn has to move.

“Cool,” she says. “I’ll say ‘yes’ to the abundant life!”

As she dreams on.