We’re living in an age now that is steeped in Superhero movies, X-Men lore, and storylines that focus a lot on world-saving and not so much on the little guys who just had their building crushed at lunch by a bird, or a plane, or a speeding bullet. Consequently, the age-old story of the buff dude in a cape coming to terms with his immense amounts of money and fame and heat vision has gotten a little stale. Mystery Girl introduces a new view on the super-powered folk in the modern world; more akin to Spidey trying to pay his rent or Ms. Marvel worrying about breaking curfew. This book follows an ordinary woman trying to make it in London- she just happens to have her own, more mysterious way of handling everyday life.
Mystery Girl focuses on the main protagonist: Trine Hampstead, sidewalk detective. She strips away all the bureaucracy and time-consuming investigations of detective work by solving all the mysteries in advance. She knows every answer to every question, and solves mysteries without ever having to leave her open-air office. When people need answers, they come to her. Trine knows about you before she has to ask. She knows where your husband is, what your dog is thinking, what the cops can’t find and what private agencies take months to figure out. As her sign states, though, “No questions asked”, because the one thing people want to know most, Trine can’t answer. How did she get her powers?
[minor plot spoilers ahead]
The book takes a lot of time -nearly half of the first issue- focusing mostly on small mysteries and Trine’s daily practice. The premise is intriguing and the exposition necessary, but I began to worry that the story ended there. A monthly series about a girl on the street solving mysteries for strippers and ex-girlfriends? Not really enough to carry a title. However, we meet a scientist and a mysterious assassin who change the tone and direction of the book completely. Soon enough, Trine is packing up her sidewalk practice to embark on a scientific mission in Siberia. She is ready to solve another mystery, and seems to have all the answers. What she doesn’t know, however, is that she seems to be in terrible danger.
The first issue of Mystery Girl, and Trine as a main character, were captivating and innovative. Trine is strong, independent, and relatable, and her personality alone is worthy of an ongoing series. The script and art only add to this book’s greatness. Poignant dialogue and plot twists are executed flawlessly by Paul Tobin. Each character, no matter how quickly they disappear from the page, leaves a lasting impression and conveys an individual personality. The art and colors from Alberto Albuquerque and Marissa Louise, respectively, beautifully complement the script and tone of the book. The art is extremely modern and expressive, while still upholding the pulpy retro vibe of old mystery comics and detective stories. The colors wonderfully enhance the art, adding a vibrancy and depth to the already well-developed representation of the characters. I especially enjoyed the color interpretation of flashback scenes, which are all cast in blue hues, reminiscent of an old-fashioned gritty detective romp. There is some nudity and some murder, but both of these are done very well, both within the plot and the way they are conveyed through the artistic capabilities of the artist and colorist.
Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s not often I find something truly unique on the shelves, but this is a great new premise that seems to carry well in a monthly series. The cliffhanger at the end has me wishing that issue #2 was hitting the shelves tomorrow. Luckily for you, though, the first issue will be available at your local comic book store on Wednesday, December 2nd. If you’re on the hunt for a great new series with a badass woman of color at the lead, and maybe a little mystery and murder, this should definitely find its way onto your pull list.
Mystery Girl is published by Dark Horse and written by Paul Tobin. Art by Alberto Albuquerque and Colors by Marissa Louise. Full Disclosure: I received a PDF copy of this book for review. (I will, however, be buying it, because it is awesome.)