Harder, Blinder, Faster, Deafer

Those of you who have been paying attention might recall that a few months ago, Benito Cereno–who received a PhD in Awesomeology from a highly accredited university–pointed out a solicitation for a book called Helen Killer, and I promptly declared that this–a story where Helen Keller is given a machine by Alexander Graham Bell that not only lets her see and hear, but gives her super-human strength and agility that she uses to protect President McKinley–was the single greatest premise I have ever seen.

And that’s why I was pretty excited when I was contacted about getting a review copy from the publisher.

Excited, and pretty curious. After all, as much as I love that premise, I’ve read enough comics to know that a fantastic idea doesn’t always make for a fantastic comic, especially when it involves taking a look at historical figures in what I think we can agree are pretty unusual circumstances.

For every Tales From the Bully Pulpit or Five Fists of Science, there are other projects that fall flat because they take themselves too seriously and try too hard to come off as grim and badass. So while I’ve been pretty outspoken in my support of the concept, I’ve been withholding judgment on the actual product.

Now, though, I can say it with certainty: Helen Killer is awesome.

The story’s presented as a serious affair, but there’s an underlying self-awareness that Andrew Kriesberg and JLD Rice bring to the table that showcases the fantastic goofiness of the project. I mean, for one thing, the review copy included an extended solicitation where you find out that Bell’s Omnicle also grants Helen the power to “see into men’s souls” (which is rad), and for another, this is a comic where Helen Keller has berserker rages.

I’ll repeat that, as it bears repeating: This is a comic where Helen Keller has berserker rages.



So awesome.

It all plays out in the first issue like a tribute to Man Without Fear, and when you find out that Kreisberg’s been a writer for Boston Legal and Justice League Unlimited, it starts to make sense that he’d come out with something that’s essentially Frank Miller’s The Miracle Worker. What’s shocking about it is that it all works, and as funny as it is to see the story hit those same beats, it feels like more of an homage than a parody, and it makes for some very entertaining comics.

As for the art, Rice is better than I ever would’ve expected, and considering that the centerpiece of the book is a six-page fight sequence, it’s all I can do to keep from just posting scenes from that and calling it a night.

Ah, what the heck. Here’s one:



And that’s the least of it. And yes: Leon Czolgosz does make an appearance.

So yeah, consider this a wholehearted endorsement from the ISB, and if the rest of the series can live up to the promise of the first issue, then this is unquestionably the first great mini-series of 2008. Ask for it by name, and tell ’em I sent you!

18 thoughts on “Harder, Blinder, Faster, Deafer

  1. “Unquestionably the first great mini-series of 2008” -Chris Sims, The ISB

    Hmmm, might need more exclamation marks.

  2. This comic’s premise mainly reminded me of “Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden”, an RPG about Charles Barkley’s basketball saga in a post-apocalyptic world, in terms of silly-but-awesome ironic posturing. Where Helen Keller has berzerker rages, Charles Barkley wields mystic holy Spalding balls and performs the Chaos Dunk.

    This means I must read it. And everyone else should play Shut Up and Jam Gaiden.

  3. I read and reviewed this comic. And I hate it for most of the same reasons Chris likes it. I hate because the premise of a super-strong, kung-fu Helen Keller is taken seriously. Or rather, not as silly as it should be. The art is an ugly rip-off of Miler’s style. Not ever worth the time to read it for free.

  4. Having gone to high school with two blind/deaf girls I can tell you that their spiritedness often seemed akin to berserker rages.

  5. If there’s anything that comics desperately needs, it’s fin-de-siecle corseted young ladies with bionic implants uppercutting guys two-by-four-wielding thugs.

  6. I’ve been excited about this book since I saw you highlight the solicit a few months ago. I grew up reading biographies of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller, so I’m thrilled to see that someone in sequential literature actually cares about them enough to use them in a book. But on top of that we get Helen beating holy hell out of people? Well, this may reach lethal levels of awesome.

    BUT. Two questions, because the information is tragically lacking in your thrilling preview/review.

    1. Who is publishng this?

    2. When does the first issue come out?

  7. this review is brilliantly titled.

    As much as I love to steal jokes, I have to give credit for this one to Mark Hale.

    As for Helen Killer, it’s being published by Arcana, and should be hitting shelves this month.

  8. So Helen Keller, socialist and labor activist, would have been Helen Keller, presidential bodyguard if only she could see?

    At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I’m gonna pass.  Helen Keller was more than just a handicapped person, but it doesn’t sound like the author of this comic recognises that.

  9. I think an imagined world that Alexander Graham Bell bestows bionic super powers on Helen Keller, is a world where it does not stretch the imagination that Helen could be a presidential protecting bad ass.

  10. So Helen Keller, socialist and labor activist, would have been Helen Keller, presidential bodyguard if only she could channel the power of her berserker rages?

    Fixed that for you.