Assuming it counts (and I’m going to say that it does, because it was published online first) my favourite webcomic is La Muse, by Adi Tantimedh and Hugo Petrus. It’s about the two grown-up children of extradimensional aliens – one an extreme leftist superhero, one an ordinary woman who acts as her sister’s publicist – and although it’s been taken down following its phyical release, I followed it near-religously throughout its original online publication.
As a deconstructionist take on the superhero, it reminds me of The One, in that it takes left-wing liberalism to extremes and tries to imagine what would happen if someone with the politics and the will to make the planet a better place. In the book, Susan accomlishes this by, for example, using her powers to create a free synthetic polymer that replaces plastic, making oil worthless, and then intervening in the wars that ensue. In exploring liberal ideas in a traditionally right-wing medium so, Tantimedh highlights the way traditional heroes like Superman effectively maintain a conservative status-quo when they have the power to do more. Admittedly, Rising Stars attempted a similar thing in its final act, but it didn’t do it anywhere near as well.
Petrus’ characters are wonderfully animated, and he displays that rarest of gifts – an understanding of fashion. It’s not massively polished, and there are moments of awkwardness, but it couldstand alongside virtually any published comic without embarrassment – and indeed, it did when the physical collection finally came out.
If there’s any major flaw in La Muse, it’s that there’s a considerable lack of any credible conflict. Susan spends most of the book solving one global crises after another with perfect judgement, while those who want to maintain the status quo bounce ineffectually off her. Susan is often infuriatingly single-minded, and frequently deserves more come-uppance than she gets. The book’s satires are sharp enough to keep the story moving forward, though, and a major plot thread involving her sex tape (a secret video of the time Susan has sex with an entire gang of neo-nazi skinheads, rendering them bisexual in the process) is as shocking as it is hilarious, with great pay-off.
Only the final act struggles, with a somewhat artificial-feeling “power loss” subplot that, frankly, was easy to predict. Even so, it all wraps up nicely by the end, even though it’s the kind of story that really could have run and run. It’s nice to see a book with such a philosophical heart, which spends as much time skewering celebrity culture as it does skewering big business. It stands proudly alongside other deconstructionist superhero works, like The One and Miracleman, and if you didn’t manage to read it when it was free, it’s certainly worth paying for.