Review: Power Up #1

PowerUp_001_A_MainYou should read Power Up.

Kate Leth has a unique place among comics creators and is a real force in comics. With her use of social media, queer feminism and community building skills she’s at the forefront of a new wave of creators and forging a path to success that others could emulate. So when I heard we were going to get her take on the “Magical Girl” genre (think Sailor Moon, the new Amethyst Princess of Gem World and stuff I can’t name because it’s manga) I was was really excited. I knew to expect an expressly feminist, queer take on a genre that is already pretty darn feminist and queer friendly.

The Magical Girl genre centers on young women with secret powers, ones that society does not understand and that are frequently very feminen-coded (think magical makeup compacts). It is a pretty subversive trope since we are usually told that girly=weak.

Leth updates this genre in so many ways. In Power Up our protagonist is a 20-something woman of color working in retail with cool purple hair and a belly. The other leads are a gold fish. And a Mom. And a male construction worker with a beard.

And they are all magical girls! 

But the thing that gets me most excited about this book is how it shows the indignities of working in retail. Our protagonist Amie works at a pet store. Her boss calls her before the crack of dawn to berate her. Her boss demands that she show up to work before she’s even on the clock lest she risk being late. Her boss doesn’t trust her judgement or intelligence and grabs her face! It’s an abusive work situation and it is completely, painfully normal.  I’m so glad a comic is showing the struggles of working people in a humorous, relatable way that simultaneously refuses to excuse her boss’s inappropriate behavior.

Who knows, may be the magical girls will come together and organize a union like the Retail Action Project does. That would be truly heroic!

Writer: Kate Leth Art: Matt Cummings
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review