Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nomad: Girl Without a World TP

Sean McKeever & David Baldeon

I was a little thrown by this book, to be honest.  I've read other works from Sean McKeever before, such as Sentinel, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that it had such an all-ages feel to it, but somehow the title and circumstances around the lead character made me think it would be more of a dark, serious story.  But while it does tackle some grim issues, Nomad: Girl Without a World remains a pretty colorful superhero title that would sit well among the books in Marvel's Marvel Adventures kids line.  But I'm not complaining - it's kind of refreshing actually.  I mean, more superhero books should be aimed at younger readers instead of catering to long-time fans.  I just expected a different experience going in than what I got.

This book is about Rikki Barnes, who was the present-day sidekick to Steve Rogers, Captain America, as Bucky.  In her world, that is (she was transported here during the Onslaught: Reborn mini-series).  Unfortunately, this new world she finds herself in (the Marvel universe proper) has been upended by recent events like Civil War.  So while some things have changed for the better (her brother in this reality is her best friend, not a supervillain), many things are worse.  Steve Rogers is dead, and she has no place in this world as Bucky.  No one's even heard of her.  But she's determined to make a name for herself, adopting the mantle of Nomad and trying to make a connection with the current Captain America.  Things don't go as planned however, and Rikki finds herself trying to uncover a plot that has much of the student body at her school brainwashed, a plot that includes a man-wolf and plenty of betrayal.

Like I said before, this book isn't as dark as I expected based on the premise and the subject matter that her predicament forces into the story, but McKeever does do some really interesting things here.  I like how Rikki is forced to make her own name, and isn't able to simply reconnect with her former mentor.  They touched on this a little bit in Ed Brubaker and Rafael Albuquerque's story in Captain America #600, a few pages of which are included at the beginning of this collection to give the story some perspective (although to be honest, I found the inclusion of this short scene out-of-place, making things more muddled than they would have been without it, even if they do mention the scene in the mini-series later).  But probably the more interesting thing about this book that Rikki deals with isn't so much her lost mentor and her place in the world, but how her presence effects this world.  Of particular interest is her relationship to her well-adjusted wonderful brother in this reality.  As I mentioned, he's a homicidal sociopath in her world, so she's thrilled to find herself make a real connection with him in her current life.  It's the one beacon of solace for her in a world that is topsy-turvy.  But her decisions in this reality change him, make him more into the brother she left behind, leading her to wonder about her effect on life, and whether her mere presence is harmful to some aspects of a world she didn't grow up in.

Nomad: Girl Without a World is a fun book that asks some interesting questions, but I feel like McKeever could have pushed things a little further.  The conspiracy that Rikki finds herself knee-deep in isn't the most riveting, putting the focus on a throw-away storyline when there's plenty of untapped potential just lying around by the nature of her very existence here.  For the type of all-ages story that McKeever does tell here, David Baldeon's cartoony art is a nice compliment.  For an action-heavy book, he depicts things clearly, and gets across the emotional conflicts with the right amount of pacing and intensity, even if it isn't exactly the prettiest art I've ever seen.  I like that McKeever doesn't shy away from some darker places that the storyline takes readers, but I do hope that he took a good hard look at what he had to work with before he continued Rikki's story in the Captain America back-up stories he's writing for Nomad: Girl Without a World.  I love the idea of this lost girl, and I'm excited to see where this reality takes her, if only her unique place in the world would be utilized in more of a satisfactory manner specific to her character and circumstance.

No comments: