Review: Help Us! Great Warrior
One of the great things about the boom of comedy adventure stories for kids and magical girl inspired stories in the past few years is the way the two can be combined to tell an effective story that appeals to a wide audience. Steven Universe is the most prominent example of this, with the rebel warriors The Crystal Gems teaching half-human earthborn gem Steven how to be a warrior while he lets them see the Earth through his young eyes. However, there’s another great story along those lines coming out of BOOM! Studios titled Help Us! Great Warrior by Madeleine Flores and Trillian Gunn, which just had its trade paperback release this week.
Help Us! Great Warrior was initially a creation of Flores that existed only in short webcomic bites, many of which are featured in the back of the trade. Those stories were focused around a small creature named Great Warrior, who loves hot guys, snacks, and dancing on the corpses of her enemies. Luckily, the jump to a six issue limited series with an expansive plot and backstory for Great Warrior didn’t take away any of those characteristics for her. She’s still just as silly on a larger level, but now we get to know more about her.
The story of the series itself is focused around Great Warrior being asked by High Chancellor Hadiyah to stop demons from running rampant over the lands. However, Great Warrior doesn’t want to do it, insisting on staying with her villagers and having her best friend Leo take care of it instead. It initially comes across as laziness, but as the story unfolds more, the reasons behind Great Warrior’s hesitation become more clear. Though, knowing her, there probably is still a bit of laziness behind it.
One of the great things about Help Us! Great Warrior besides the way the story manages to stay effectively self-contained is how diverse it is. In an all ages story, all of the main characters are women with two of them being women of color. Hadiyah, a hijabi, is shown being in a position of power and respect and is even described as “the physical manifestation of good and purity in this land.” Leo, a trans woman, is a strong and noble warrior who also has an amazing pink undercut. The reveal of her being trans is also so subtle and really cleverly done, making jokes not at her expense, but at the struggles often experienced by trans people when they try to legally change their name. It’s so important for all ages stories to not only strive for diversity, but to flip the way people that are often turned into jokes are viewed in the story itself. Help Us, Great Warrior! does a fantastic job of showing these two important characters in a positive light and teaching the next generation of comic readers not to expect any one thing from particular persons.
Most of the work on this comic in writing, art and lettering is done by Flores, but the colors are done by Gunn. Flores’s very rounded and soft style brings a certain kind of excitement to the fast paced action scenes, and are complimented so well by Gunn’s soft colors. There’s no mistake that this book is “girly” in aesthetic, but it never compromises on that for knocking the action down a peg. In fact, it makes the more action-y scenes even more refreshing to see magical girl lenses applied to sword and sorcery. Even the end of the book feels like that, with a great and noble sacrifice usually seen in high fantasy seen through a “softer” lens. Nobody dies. They just take a long, warm and well-deserved nap.
If you’re a fan of adventure and magical girls, Help Us! Great Warrior may be your kind of book. The plot is one every fantasy fan has read before, but the characters that populate the universe created by Flores and Gunn are absolute cuties and never feel like one note in the short time we get to spend with them. The soft and rounded style and silly and touching humor added in with that make this book an absolute treat for the eyes and soul. Give it a look if you have a little warrior in your life or just need to get in touch with your inner one.
Story: Madeleine Flores Art: Madeleine Flores and Trillian Gunn
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read
BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review