The Quarter Bin

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Frenemy of the State #1

Posted by Luke Brown On May - 12 - 2010

Celebrities creating comic books has become more and more common over the course of the last few years. The latest star to try her hand at comic writing is one Rashida Jones, who you may remember from I Love You, Man or Parks and Recreation. Teamed with Oni Press, Christina Weir, Nunzio DeFillipis, and Jeff Wamester, Jones’ comic Frenemy of the State reads like a premise just dying to be optioned for a feature or television adaptation. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I’m a big fan of espionage and spy thrillers. I appreciate a new take on the genre, and Frenemy is definitely trying for something a little different. Taking a bit of inspiration from JJ Abrams’ Alias, Frenemy of the State centers around Ariana Von Holmberg, a socialite who found herself in some trouble with the law, then found herself working for the CIA. For some reason, the government thinks Ariana will be a great undercover agent, and she’s tasked with recovering some data from a rival socialite’s home. It’s a fairly simple introduction to a story I’m hoping will have more than a few twists. Though the first two pages of the story are set up like a faux celebrity gossip blog to introduce the characters (which isn’t a terrible idea, but I’m always a fan of letting the readers figure things out on their own), and don’t really move the plot along, the rest of the book wastes no time in progressing the story, while at the same time telling the origin of the lead character. With so many books spending so much time treading water with panels upon panels of dialogue that goes nowhere, it’s nice to see a story that reads quickly and gets the point across.

Ariana’s character makes for a strong lead. She’s smart, beautiful, and won’t put up with anyone’s bullshit, be it a CIA agent or a spoiled rich kid. Though we don’t get to spend much time with the other characters in the story, the dialogue is strong enough that we’re able to get a sense of personality from just a few lines. I don’t know which of the three writers is doing the heavy lifting, but all three should be commended for not only being able to make such a ridiculous premise believable, but also for creating a lead character that I actually want to see more of. I could also stand to see Jeff Wamester’s art a bit more. He’s got a bit of Adrian Alphona feel, though Wamester’s lines are a little bolder. His characters are stylized with just the right amount of sharpness in their facial features, and he’s got a pretty good pace for action. It’s a small sample size, but I think the interiors here will definitely help this book’s chances for success.

I think this is a premise and character that could be really fun and interesting if it was treated right. I’m curious to know what’s going to happen next, and whether or not Jones’ creation has the backbone to stand toe to toe with some of the other big female spy leads on shelves today like Tara Chace in Queen in Country and Natasha Romanov in Black Widow. While those two books are vastly different in tone and concept, I think Frenemy of the State ends up finding a nice middle ground between realism and fantasy, and could end up being another example of a strong female lead in a comic that’s about more than splash page battles showing off ridiculously tight attire. Comic stands could use more books like this on their shelves.


1 Response so far
  1. Tweets that mention The Quarter Bin » Blog Archive » Frenemy of the State #1 -- Topsy.com Said,

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Wamester, TheQuarterbin. TheQuarterbin said: A review of Frenemy of the State from @OniPress and @jeffwamester. http://bit.ly/cYfIeh "… another example of a strong female lead…" [...]

    Posted on May 12th, 2010 at 3:56 PM

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