Street Angel: After School Kung Fu Special – Brian Maruca, Jim Rugg

5 out of 5

This… was a story!

I loved the collected Street Angel from Adhouse books. Would I have loved Jim Rugg’s and Brian Maruca’s creation as much if I had discovered her scattered adventures across those original issues before being compiled? Good question. I know I got a little burned on the $20, single story hardcovers from Image, but that’s more of a price point concern than it is over the content. SA has apparently always bounced between satisfying one-ers and nonsequitor hijinks, so the fault goes more to the publisher for milking us readers for our Jesse Sanchez-loving dollars.

That said, if these $20 sets were of after quality, I probably wouldn’t feel that wallet-burning sting. In fact: it’d be worth it.

The story is still wonderfully irreverent, with a class-cutting Jesse getting a locker-taped warning of an impending after school fight, then fending off a friend’s insistence that she find herself a dance date, then using a badass string of splash pages to punctuate things and kinda sorta tie them all together, but we firstly get actual character work – one of the highlights of the series, as it shows off the creative team’s casual skill with carving out an impressively broad world with a pretty laughable thin “girl beats up thugs” premise – and then secondly, Rugg’s art earns the format, filling up the pages with a lot of bright, oversized-worthy colors and skritchy-skratchy delightful panels before unloading those glorious punch-filled splash pages.

It’s fun stuff, it looks great, and the pacing makes all the story beats and laugh-out-loud nonsense land. Then again, if these guys did offer this quality up consistently in this format, that sets a bad money-spending precedent for me.