Magpie: Episode One and Two
Oi Oi Oi! Issues 7 and 8
Writer Andrez Bergen
Art Frantz Kantor
For those of you who picked up ‘Oi Oi Oi!’ issue 7 you would’ve encountered the new, and ever so slightly formidable, Australian superhero powerhouse… ‘Magpie’. Magpie is not your run-of-the mill, spandex wearing, cleavage-popping heroine, she’s more like a kick in the nuts. Metaphorically, and literally. Co-created by the dynamic duo of Frantz Kantor and Andrez Bergen, the first instalment of Magpie delivered us a rich cityscape populated by an assortment of strange and colourful characters.
Andrez Bergen is a crafty cat: his writing is intelligent, quick-witted and he knows how to write dialogue that taps into Australian ethos and, more importantly, elicits an emotional response. Those already familiar with his existing works - 'Bullet Gal', 'Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat', 'Who’s Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?' - will know of his love of noir cinematics: the cynical nature of his characters, gritty yet stylish sets, mood and the underlying sexual tension (hard to ignore that with Kantor’s artwork!) Adopting an approach similar to Steven Spielberg in his 1975 classic, 'Jaws', Magpie is hardly seen within the pages of the first strip. We know she’s coming, so it’s all about working the audience and building anticipation, which Bergen does brilliantly. At the outset we are introduced to 3D Man, a superhero-wannabe with good intentions, who falls foul of society and decides to exact his revenge. Bergen allows you to develop a relationship with this flawed behemoth, and it’s pretty easy to both empathise and sympathise with his fall from grace. Unfortunately, 3D Man should’ve become as acquainted with cinematics as Bergen is, because his end draws parallels to that of another antagonist from another Spielberg classic, 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'.
The dystopian world of Magpie’s Melbourne is a rich and vibrant space brought to life through a combination of digital graphics and hand-drawn art. Where the boundaries lie are not important as the style, colours and textures create a seamless and visceral environment. This isn’t a dorky Aussie town, it’s a cityscape that is uniquely Australian and little touches such as the colours of the train seats, billboards and the in-jokes that pock mark the buildings and furnishings (e.g. the ‘Final Showdown’ poster in the background of… well… the final showdown between Magpie and 3D Man).
Magpie is quintessentially Australian. Aussie as, without making your teeth hurt due to the cringe factor. Possibly a strawberry blonde, I’m going to say that she’s a "ranga", a supposition further confirmed by her sun-spots and freckles. Although her outfit affords her little physical protection during combat (unless you consider distraction a valid strategy?) she looks like she can kick arse in her comfortable shoes, and she does. At the start of the second Magpie story (soon to be released in 'Oi Oi Oi!' issue 8) there’s a costume change which better aligns Magpie to the plumage of her avian counterpart and serves to accentuate her assets.
Episode Two is all about Magpie, as it should be. She pokes fun at the comic genre in a similar fashion to Deadpool, and we begin to learn more about her through some character development pieces which were missing in the first story. When I say missing, I don’t mean this negatively as Kantor and Bergen wanted Magpie to enter with a bang, and this is exactly what she did. The explanation for her wardrobe change is hilarious, as is the very intelligent and witty banter between the characters as we continue to delve into the grittiest pocket of Bergen’s Melbourne-noir. The inhabitants of this world are plucked from a variety of genre, with a combination of 1960s campy-comic thugs, 1930s mobsters and a very bronze, very cool steampunk-styled robot villain. As with all good tales, we’re left with a cliff-hanger, so it looks as though I’ll be back for some more blonde bangs next month!
Crikey – it’s a ripper of a BUY from me!
'Oi Oi Oi!' is published through Comicoz and backed by Nat Karmichael, a stalwart promoter of great Australian comic talent.