Ripple Effects #1 is published by Fanbase Press, written by Jordan Hart, art by Bruno Chiroleu, colors by Jordan Hart, letters by Oceano Ransford, with an accompanying essay by Dr. Theresa Rojas. Meet George Gibson. An everyday guy who is aspiring to be a writer. But his focus on penning the next great American novel is split by a couple of other aspects of his life he tries to keep others from knowing about. One is that, three years ago, he acquired invulnerability to any external harm for reasons unknown to him. The other is that this same metamorphosis gives him an incurable, though treatable, invisible disease: type 1 diabetes.
Superhero comics aren’t known for their dazzling work with disabilities. More often than not, when a hero is introduced with a disability, there is usually a narrative workaround that dramatically minimizes the effects on the character. While Matt Murdock loses his sight from toxic sludge, now he can use echolocation and sense heat, magnetics, and who knows what else to allow him to sense things no other human can. By the end of it, it feels like Matt didn’t lose anything; rather, it often feels like he traded in his old eyesight for a newer model.
But what would it be like to gain superpowers, then find out they came with a permanent disability. One that isn’t easily undone by the character’s newfound gifts? Ripple Effects #1 begins the story of just such a character.
Ripple Effects #1 goes to great lengths to highlight the day-to-day impact that George’s condition has on his life. From his regular doctors’ visits to the concern over mounting medical bills and his need to keep his emergency pen on him, the book lets readers see how profoundly this part of the change in George’s life has impacted him. But, in case you think this book makes it look like George’s life is nothing but painful needle sticks and financial worries, it doesn’t.
While the negative effects of his condition do impact him, George has good things going for him too. Parents who love and support him, and he’s halfway through writing his first novel. Hart’s writing does a fantastic job of showcasing the impact of George’s diabetes while not making it feel like its only purpose is to bring the character down.
When George’s external invulnerability is exposed during a robbery he accidentally stumbles into, he is approached by one of his world’s superheroes, Salvadora the Savior, who instantly tries to recruit him.
While the biggest roadblock to taking her up on her offer is his concern over his diabetes, it isn’t linked to fear for himself but rather for others. What would happen if he lost his pen during a mission and needed help? Could he risk endangering his teammates or innocents during a critical moment? Hart’s choice to have George focus more on the potential repercussions of his situation on others than on himself gives the character a selfless and truly heroic shine. He seems like the kind of guy you want to be a superhero.
Equally wonderful is Salvadora’s reaction to George’s feelings about becoming a superhero. Rather than pressure him regardless of his concerns or dismiss his potential due to his condition, Salvadora shows nothing but respect and support for his feelings and motivations.
While I love how Ripple Effects #1 handles its characters and frames George’s situation, this wonderful work comes with a narrative cost. With everyone around George being so supportive of him, this means that much of the drama the story might’ve had is absent. This isn’t a bad thing, particularly as it feels like the exploration and establishment of George’s life with his disability is the primary point of this issue. Still, it makes the book a bit bland of a read if you are looking for a dramatic opening for a superhero narrative.
The art in this book is simple but effective. The basic line work and panel layouts keep the story grounded in the mostly mundane world that George lives in. The colors used throughout go along with the overall tone and mood of the book excellently.
Wrapping up our look at the story’s visual presentation is the lettering. Much like the art, the lettering delivers a clean and effective presentation that allows the reader to follow along with the story without problems.
The final element of Ripple Effects #1 is a closing essay by Dr. Theresa Rojas. In this essay, Dr. Rojas talks about their life with type 2 diabetes and the struggles and successes they have experienced while learning to manage their situation. This essay proved quite insightful to me as it brought to light many details I had never known about the treatments and life experiences of dealing with diabetes.
When all is said and done, Ripple Effects #1 delivers an interesting look at the first steps of a superheroic story about an individual with superpowers and a disability and how he is finding a way to make both work in his life.
Ripple Effects #1 is available on June 15th from Hoopla.
Ripple Effects #1
Ripple Effects #1 delivers an interesting look at the first steps of a superheroic story about an individual with superpowers and a disability and how he is finding a way to make both work in his life.