No Heroine #1 from Ringo Award-nominated writer Frank Gogol offers up demons of the supernatural and personal kind. Published by Source Point Press, the title features art and colors respectively from father-daughter team Criss Madd and Shawna Madd, with letters by Sean Rinehart. Inspired by the iconic Buffy the Vampire Slayer, No Heroine uses action and monsters to tell the wholey grounded and emotional story of Kayla Vasquez.
In No Heroine, Kayla is a recovering heroin addict who just wants to go home to her family. That said, with a large list of wrongs in her life, she needs to right them first. This all comes to a head when a friend goes missing and she starts down a long, dark road filled with vampires and werewolves. But unlike Buffy, the story here is that not everyone is cut out to be a hero.
After his hit series Dead End Kids and getting to interview Gogol about this title, I knew that No Heroine #1 was a title made for me. The supernatural? Check. Trauma? Check. Punk rock? Triple check. In No Heroine #1 Kayla is approaching 90 days sober and it hasn’t been easy. To help, Kayla sets out to find her missing friend, Sid—the one person she knows can keep her on the straight-and-narrow. But it’s not as easy as she thinks since its a gang of heroine-dealing vampires that have him.
I have to admit, I walked into No Heroine #1 thinking I understood exactly what I was getting into. Buffy but if Buffy wasn’t fit to be the chosen one and of course, was in recovery for an addiction. It’s a simple premise but its one that Gogol executes so flawlessly that it takes on its own unique narrative life. There are obvious moments where the homage to the Whedon classic is visible, but it offers depth from the first page to the last.
Kayla is strong, she’s intimidating, and she jumps into action without fear. Through her narration, we see her vulnerability, her worry, and her priorities. Kayla isn’t seeking out Sid to save him, she’s trying to rescue him because she doesn’t believe that she can stay in recovery without him. There is a selfishness that comes off as authentic, and somehow more compelling than duty.
Additionally, the fact that the supernatural world in No Heroine isn’t hidden allows Gogol to bring in a dynamic we don’t usually see in girl saves the world narratives. Vampires just exist in No Heroine #1 and Kayla just knows how to kill them. We don’t get exposition or a window into any part of Kayla’s life outside her addiction. While this may seem limiting, it’s a masterful way to tell a supernatural story. Kayla’s struggle matters first, the rest is just another thing for her to overcome.
When it comes to character design, it’s the little details from Madd and Madd that make Kayla shine. The small notes of purple in her bleached hair show that she’s not put together like other heroines. Additionally, the way she is illustrated in her flashback, emaciated and fragile, is a strong way to show how she’s changed in her 90 days of sobriety. In her flashback and in the present she is two different people and it creates a tension that lets you know what she’s running away from.
Overall, No Heroine #1 is a phenomenal debut issue. It’s fierce, it’s vulnerable, and it’s definitely here to challenge preconceived notions of the genre and who Kayla should be.
No Heroine #1 is available June 24th.
No Heroine #1
No Heroine #1 is a phenomenal debut issue. It’s fierce, it’s vulnerable, and it’s definitely here to challenge preconceived notions of the genre and who Kayla should be.