Written by: Bryan J. L. Glass
Art by: Victor Santos
Letters by: Nate Piekos
Published by: Dark Horse
“What if Lindsay Lohan went to rehab, got clean, came out with superpowers and then decided to make up for her past sins by using her new-found powers to clean up the city?”
This is essentially the premise to Furious.
Furious tells the story of Cadence Lark, a former child star who went off the rails in her late teens because she couldn’t handle her level of fame and wealth. The story kicks off shortly after Cadence has started setting her life straight again. Discovering that she has new superpowers, she sets out to become the world’s first superhero using the secret identity of Beacon!
Things don’t run too smoothly for Cadence though. She’s quick to learn that invulnerability, super strength, the ability to fly and the very best of intentions can mean nothing at all when the media puts their spin on events. In a world of camera phones, paparazzi and cynical assholes it can be hard to get the right message across. Just as the villains of her pre-detox life were media sensationalists, The Beacon is likewise plagued by flashing lights and images snapped at just the wrong moment.
Cadence’s powers are fueled by emotion, specifically rage-type emotions. As a result it can sometimes look like she is getting a little carried away when she doles out some justice on the common thugs and thieves. As a result of all this, her attempts to be identified as a tangible beacon of hope are in vain; instead her perceived violence causes the media to give her another name, “Furious”.
That’s the central theme that Bryan J. L. Glass tries to convey in Furious, that the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. While the limits and origins of her powers are completely glossed over, the issue of media sensationalism is ever-present. The main character is a superhero, but this is not a superhero story. This is the story of a girl whose life has been shattered by the media’s portrayal of her, and of how making an honest attempt at turning your life around can be made tougher by how you are viewed.
This arc of Furious follows a non-linear narrative. While the main plotline follows Cadence on her current journey as Furious, the other branches delve into her past. One following her entry into show business as a sweet, bright-eyed young girl, and how her life slowly turned to something darker due to the pressures of fame. The other detailing the part of her life that she wants to atone for, along with the various misdeeds that motivate her quest for redemption.
The whole thing can get quite dark from scene to scene, but that doesn’t mean there is no fun to be had in Furious. Cadence’s internal monologue on the physics of catching a baby while flying at top speed, and how hitting an invulnerable woman or a pavement would have similar results for the child, are darkly humourous. It’s things like this that help break up the rage filled action scenes of Cady furiously beating someone to a pulp. To be honest, those scenes kinda need something to break them up. As I said before, this is not a superhero story, and the action scenes show that off. Many of the fights with common thugs feel quite samey, following a pattern of her getting angry, then cracking some skulls. That, however, is one small negative on a big list of positives. Though I’d advise that if you want carefully choreographed punch-kicking that you look elsewhere. This is, once again, the story of a girl trying to get back on track while the media tears her down.
Despite the, at times, dark tone and the violent fight scenes, Furious maintains a fairly bright color palette. Santos’ use of vibrant colors prevents the whole book having an overly gritty feel to it. On top of that, all the crimsons and clarets show up better when surrounded by bright primary colors and soft outlines. The scenes where Furious is flying high, waving to the people, or in the media eye, all tend to be bright and colorful with vibrant primary colors abound. In other scenes, when Cadence has some time to herself, or when the timeline shifts back to her past, the colors tone down a little to match the mood and change of setting, with purples, oranges and neon being the order of the day.
At first I thought Furious was going to be a short run between Glass’ and Santos’ work on Mice Templar, but with the TPB collection being labelled as ‘Volume 1’ it would seem there is some intention of returning to Cadence’s story at some point and I couldn’t be happier about that. No news yet but I’m hoping they’ve got a plan for Volume 2 shortly after the end of Mice Templar in November.
To close, Furious asks the reader “do we build our heroes up, just to break them down?”, and if you enjoy Rat Queens, Spider-Man’s struggle with his popular perception/the media, Daredevil’s Born Again arc, or Netflix’s Bojack Horseman, then I highly recommend you pick up the first volume.