Andrew Roby (co-creator, writer), Nicole Kaiser (co-creator, colors, lead character design), Olivia Fowler (art)
Diamond Dragon Comics
Rapid City was on the verge of destruction, at least until it got its own superhero. Enter Bolt, a super speedy, super arrogant hero to save the day. Now, just as the city seems to be getting back on its feet, Bolt’s place of business Hero For Hire is taken over by Karahl, a ninja and tigress, in order to help pay off Bolt’s destruction related debts (a side effect of his heroic shenanigans). Thus, RUSH! begins.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of the story is it progresses too quickly. For instance, the tension between Karahl and Bolt is understandable, she steps in and steals ownership from Bolt right under his feet. However, this tension seems to explode within moments of its introduction when Bolt, after Karahl’s suggestion to go to a sushi restaurant instead of ordering pizza, complains, “Ever since you got your claws into my business all you do is act like you own the place.” It seems odd for sushi of all things to be the catalyst for the inevitable conflict between them, yet there it is. Maybe the story is in a rush of its own to get to the action, but lacking such a foundational piece of the narrative, developing the relationship between major characters, leaves it feeling disjointed. The dynamic between the characters the comic portrays is interesting and works on a narrative level, but does not come across as cohesively as it should.
Additionally, it is a disappointing that Rapid City’s introduction isn’t given much fanfare. In fact, not much detail is given to the city at all, even as Bolt lauds it with praise. It’s missing character. There is no real identity for the city other than the fact that Bolt lives there and it was named after him. This perhaps, will be corrected as the story progresses.
Olivia Fowler’s art is a bit amateurish, though consistently in-character throughout the first two issues. At times you can see fingers running together, or abnormal body proportions, especially in background characters. Backgrounds themselves are simple, and the objects in them are very geometric, adding to the lack of character plaguing Rapid City. However, Fowler does exceed at capturing the characters’ own dynamic personalities, like Karahl’s confident posture or Bolt’s stubborn gait.
Several female characters have been introduced in the story so far, Karahl, Ruru, Ember, and the ever so villainous mistress who seems to be at the center of the city’s ne’er-do-wells. There is a heartwarming, albeit heavy-handed, interaction between Karahl and Ruru towards the end of the second issue. It seems to be one of the best moments of relationship growth within the comic and I genuinely want to see how it develops in the future, preferably without using Bolt as a catalyst for the interaction. At this point Ruru has only been defined by her relationship to Bolt; perhaps this will be a building block for her to develop a bit more personality in future volumes.
It is important to mention some of the more problematic moments in the comic, however, especially in regard to its portrayal of women. While Bolt intentionally follows a heroic moral code, at one point he undresses two villains because they are supermodels and thus attractive to him. Is the book implying that it’s okay to undress people unwillingly because they are attractive? It’s hard to say if this is meant to be a character flaw or simply a gag meant to be entertaining. It is a moment that passes far too quickly and without much critical reflection.
The story falls into a lot of superhero conventions that can come across as somewhat cliché. Like having Ruru, the younger, more impressionable sidekick to Bolt, develop a crush on him and the subsequent fact that she becomes a damsel in distress. Added to this is the fact that she is lured into captivity in the first place under the impression that she will become more grown up and thus more attractive to Bolt. After how many years of this trope playing out repeatedly, it’s now more lazy storytelling than anything else.
All in all, as a first piece of work from a small independent team of comic creators, RUSH! is far from perfect. It’s disappointing that a story bases so much in its characters and neglects to build much character at all. But perhaps with time it can develop into the story it is trying to be.