Written by Fabian Rangel, Jr
Art by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Ironbark
Published by IDW Publishing
Release Date: March 22, 2017

This is not a horror book, but lord is the premise frightening. In a world where coffee is illegal (GASP), Helena Crash is there to shuttle black market goods to those who will pay the big bucks. With Helena Crash #1 from IDW, Fabian Rangel, Jr (author of one of my favorite comics of the last couple of years, Space Riders) is back at crazy action with Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (of Tank Girl fame) drawing the absolute crap out of this book, and Ironbark providing letters. Now, full disclosure, I write this review while anxiously waiting for my Drink Coffee/Make Comics t-shirt from Rangel, Jr.’s latest kickstarter for his Blood Brothers graphic novel, so this is a book that speaks to me on many levels. However, even without my attachment to coffee and Rangel, Jr.’s previous work, I would be hard pressed to have not fallen hard for the zany characters, beautiful and energetic illustrations, and crazy fun story found in Helena Crash #1.

The story opens with Helena Crash making a black market run, delivering the now outlawed product, coffee, to her high-paying clients. Along theway, we meet an imaginative group of characters from pufferfish-headed creatures to wolf-sasquatch-looking lackeys, and the incredible world of Helena Crash unfolds. Helena is met with rival gang wars, crime bosses, and all sorts of trouble (as I already come to expect and yearn for from this rowdy and independent woman). The action is fast, the story generally light-hearted, and I’m ready for issue two as of now.

I immediately fell in love with this story, from it’s unique and kinetic art, to the clever and honest dialogue. Fabian Rangel, Jr. and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell have created a world worth living for. Helena Crash is a fun character, vibrant in her capabilities and attitude. The dialogue is serious in that special way that never takes itself too seriously, tongue in cheek but fully believable given the world we are presented with. The story itself is compelling, providing a set up for twists and turns yet to come. The webs between the characters are spun fast, each character unique, easy to remember, and filling archetypal roles in goofy, exuberant ways. Rangel, Jr. certainly showcases his ability to write damn fun comics, entertaining with high-energy execution.

Warwick Johnson-Cadwell suits this story perfectly. His unique style of surreal illustrations, capacity to draw conceptually wacky characters, and ability to fill panels with life while still leading the eye easily around a page is unparalleled. His energy matches the dynamic tone of this book, capturing the kooky narrative and landscape of this comic with a wonderfully loose compulsion. His colors keep the tone bright and clear to read, textured in a manner that provides seamless complexity in small doses to keep the panels interesting and eye-catching. Ironbark’s lettering is smooth and not at all burdensome, making the task of reading and following along even easier.

Helena Crash is something special. I can’t think of anything quite like it on the shelves, and I read the entire issue with a huge smile on my face. I loved the over the top action, playful dialogue and narration, humorous and engaging character designs, and one-of-a-kind art. Helena Crash is deliciously fun.

The Verdict: 9.5/10


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