COMIC REVIEW: My So-Called Secret Identity [MSCSI]

MSCSI-Webcomic-BannerMSCSI focuses on the life of Catherine Abigail Daniels. Daniels is a PhD student with almost unbelievable mental prowess. Think Sherlock Holmes levels of intellect, only combined with friendly social skills. Daniels lives and works in a city called Gloria.

As Daniels goes about her daily life through the city, Gloria becomes a fully fledged character in and of itself. After only one episode Gloria felt as real and as in-depth to me as London, NYC, Gotham and Metropolis do.

Similarly to Gotham and Metropolis, Gloria has a multifaceted citizen caste:

“I’m not a performer

I’m not a costume celebrity

I’m not a hero or a villan

And in Gloria, if you’re not one of them.

You’re little people.”

It’s hard to write a non-spoilerrific review of the comic – I advise you to read it for yourself – but issue one is tightly written and so well paced that at 22 pages it felt far too short. What I can say is that there are hints that a main character is reinventing themselves, or perhaps running away  from their past. There is a mystery to be solved, and it all takes place in a contemporary city setting. How and why superheroes / villains might be involved in the main narrative is yet to be explained but I have a feeling it’s going to be fun finding out all the answers.
MSCSI-Iss1-Page2
All artwork for issue one is created by Suze Shore and Sarah Zaidan. Shore is a freelance artist who met MSCSI’s writer Dr Will Brooker after posting some Batgirl fanart to an online forum. Zaidan has a P.h.D in Superheroes. Zaidan’s Ph.D thesis “The Adventures of MetaMan: The Superhero as a Representation of Modern Western Masculinity (1940-2010,)” is how she met Dr Will Brooker.Having intelligence as a superpower is really well executed by the creative team behind the comic.

Dr. Will Brooker – himself a Ph.D in Batman –  meant that the flashbacks outlining Daniels’ Academic Life, – ‘You’re too young and/or female to have written something this good!’ – manage to be concise and help round out Daniels’ character well. Being the smartest person in the room doesn’t seem to win the main heroine friends or respect.I loved the first issue. The MSCSI site is well laid out and easy to navigate. It also features a 10 page ‘Lookbook’ which is essentially a character development sketchbook. It was nice to see how the character art evolved as well as how script pages match the finished comic entity.

However, I have two minor complaints about MSCSI. Firstly at 22 pages the premier issue feels too short!  I immediately wanted to know more, and spend more time exploring the city of Gloria in more depth.  Secondly because it’s web-only I cannot immediately lend a physical copy to all my friends.  Hopefully the comic will become successful enough to one day come on dead-tree version.

The question of ‘What kind of comic do you get when fans create something to fill a need, and two hold P.h.D’s in comics?’ sounds like the opener to a terrible, groan-worthy joke, but the reality is that you get a great comic, with standout art, a likeable and believable heroine, strong writing, a narrative with just enough hints at a larger adventure, and most of all it’s FUN.

“Fifteen months in the making, MSCSI aims to keep everything that’s good about superhero comics, and change the rest. It’s a new approach from the ground-up, in terms of story, character, artwork and production.”

Issue 1 will be available online permanently, for free. Future issues will be funded via donations (suggested minimum $5.00 / approx. £3.23) MSCSI is a not-for-profit, and makes regular donations to a women’s refuge charity. Any monies raised from issue 2 will go to support the women’s UK outreach charity http://www.awayout.co.uk/

Further issues should be available every two months depending on how well fund raising for artist costs goes. Each issue will be 22 pages long, and the creative team hope to feature guest artist such as Hanie Mohd, Lea Hernandez, Sandra Salsbury (Illustrating Reddit) and Paige Halsey Warren (Busty Girl Comics) for future issues. The creative team already have the first five issues of volume one planned, with firm ideas for future stories.

If you want to learn more about MSCSI or spread the word, then you can find them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/MySoCalledSecretIdentity and on twitter @cat_abi_daniels.

Incase you can’t already tell I really like MSCSI. I eagerly await issue 2. As the first issue is free online you’ve got nothing to lose by going and checking it out for yourself. Even if you don’t normally read comics via computer screen, and even if you think superhero comics are ‘not your thing’ I strongly urge you to give it a try.

Issue one can be viewed at www.mysocalledsecretidentity.com from February 18th 2013

Rating: 4.5 /5
Reporter: Faintdreams

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