Depictions: Leave It To Chance
younger fanboy days, many of us turned
to books like The Hardy Boys or Tom Swift for our
daring danger and amazing adventure fix. We waited
with baited breath as each page told us how Frank and Joe
would solve The Secret of The Old Mill or The Shore
Road Mystery. We marveled as Tom Swift invented super-scientific
ray guns and macro-telescopes and time machines.
about that other 50% of the population that
grew up reading Nancy Drew?
often in the field of comic books, we forget that around one
third of the readership is female (I think the figure is about
31% but feel free to correct me, true believers).
we sometimes subconsciously exclude women from comics; why
is it fanboy and not fanperson or
maybe the extremely ambiguous fan? The industry
itself includes few female writers and artists compared to
the amount of males, the lovely Devin Grayson being a notable
exception. And lets face it; most women are more drawn
to the Indy books or Vertigo titles than they are to mainstream
comics, due to the sometimes juvenile, overtly macho, male-oriented
content of the mainstream.
if James Robinson, Paul Smith, and Jeremy Cox created more
books, the male-to-female proportion would even out a little.
The trio are responsible for Leave It To Chance: Shamans
Rain, a collection of the first four issues of the original
series published under Wildstorms Homage imprint.
of Devils Echo has always known of, and been plagued
by, the supernatural. Demons are commonplace, faeries exist
through hidden doorways, and goblins were once a house pet
trend. And while it might be cool to live in this kind of
town, having Hell demons try to open the barriers between
Earth and the inferno once or twice a week is less than great.
Luckily for the residents of Devils Echo, their town
has always been protected by the magically adept Falconer
family, and its current protector, Lucas Falconer is no exception.
Having lost his wife to one of his magic menaces, Lucas is
very protective of his fourteen-year-old daughter, Chance.
wants nothing more than to carry on the tradition of protecting
Devils Echo and happily awaits the day her training
can begin. Unfortunately for her, the tradition only passes
to the next male Falconer, leaving her to spend her life sitting
around and trying to produce a male heir. Which, like a dutiful
daughter, she does, and thats the end of the book
defies her father and investigates a case that he deems beneath
his attention. As she
investigates an attack on a powerful shaman that left him
in a coma, she discovers a conspiracy that involves the mayoral
race, goblin attacks on sewer workers, and an enemy related
to her fathers past that is seeking to end the Falconer
line. Chance, with the help of her trusty dragon sidekick,
St. George, has to save Devils Echo from a great evil
arise that will bury the town forever.
is great. I say that a lot, but it really is. In his introduction,
Robinson tells the reader that he used to read Nancy Drew
as a child and readily enjoyed her adventures. He set out
to create a character that combined Nancy Drew and Kolchak
the Night Stalker and that could appeal to female comic
book readers who were post-Archie and pre-Vertigo
of drifting away and leaving comic books to their brothers.
In creating Chance, Robinson has succeeded.
young enough and naïve enough to appeal to the Harry
Potter generation, yet adventurous enough to appeal to the
diehard adventure comic reader. Finding great female comic
book characters that are drawn realistically, that are strong-willed
and that actually appeal to women is hard in todays
world. Most of todays leading ladies in three color
ink are femme fatales like Lady Death and Vampirella, or complicated
heroines like Promethea and Aliass Jessica Jones. Chance
is a simple, straightforward good guy and she makes reading
the book plenty of fun.
cast is strong, too. From St. George the dragon to Officer
Margo Vega, all the characters lend depth to the story, each
possessing a distinct personality. As Batman has taught us,
the butler is always a source of sagely wisdom and Lucas Falconers
gentlemens gentleman Hobbs is no exception. Even the
thugs in this story (thug personalities in literature being
about as diverse as a Klan meeting) possess memorable qualities.
Youll also learn what a trogg is. Comic
books: always out to expand your vocabulary.
on this book is simple, at times appearing similar to Akiko
by Mark Crilley, though slightly more detailed (not every
character has pencil dot eyes, only some), but
Smith really shines when drawing action. Whether Chance is
zipping down a clothesline or St. George is scrapping with
a giant amphibian, Smith makes the reader feel every death-defying
minute. Coxs coloring also contributes. Each panel is
lush with color. Even the nighttime scenes are chock-full
of bright coloring, which is a nice change from some comics
where negative space and an abundance of black ink tend to
make a night scene look like the Exxon-Valdez crashed
onto the page.
greatest strengths are its heroine and the well-constructed,
interestingly populated world that Robinson creates. Its
a great story and a fun read, but the reason you should buy
this book is to expand the literary world of someone else.
Pick this up and give it to your younger sister or your girlfriend.
Give it to your mom and see if she finally understands why
you spend so much time reading those silly funny books
that you always have your nose stuck in. Id yell You
go girl! but someone would probably slap me.
It To Chance was one of the few books Homage published.
Astro City grabbed more attention leaving Chance
by the wayside, so its good to see that the series is
seeing new life in graphic album form. The book itself is
$14.95 and currently in release as a hardcover. (Robinson
and Smith want to emulate the European mode of releasing their
work in the form of albums.-- editor) Whatever, it makes
a classy present for the lady in your life, whether it be
your girlfriend or someone else. My sister will love hers.
Sparling has been slapped. -- editor
It To Chance Vol. 1: Shaman's Rain at Amazon.com